Are You Willing To Tell Others?

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Are you familiar with Penn & Teller? They are two men who have been around for many years putting on magic shows. Penn Jillette is an outspoken atheist. After one of his shows a businessman came up to him and spoke very kindly about his show. He then told him that he had a Bible that he would like to give him. Penn was impressed with the fact that this man looked him straight in the eyes, was sincere in his words and not embarrassed to hand him that little Bible.  Later on Penn reflected on the incident in a youtube video and said this:

“I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. If you believe there is a heaven and hell and that people could be going to hell … and you don’t think it ‘s worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward – then how much do you have to hate someone to not proselytize them? How much to do have to hate someone to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”

In Matthew 28 we are charged to go out into all the world and make disciples. We are to take the good news which we have heard and received and share it with those who are still lost. For some that may means becoming  missionaries in some remote place on earth, but for most of us that means being a light to the community around us and sharing the good news of Christ crucified in the towns and neighborhood we live in right now. Penn is right, if we are not willing to share our message with others what does that say about our love for them?

Our Message

The message we are to share is really the same message we need to hear ourselves, right? Jesus died for sinners so we could be free! Free of the condemnation of sin, free of the power of sin and, someday, free of the presence of sin.

Sin is a curse on all of us, but there is salvation to be found through Jesus our substitute and our advocate. This is our good news!

Our Method

Have you heard the expression, “preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary use words”? It has been attributed to Francis of Assisi, but he actually never said it. It is not found in any of his writings, nor do his disciples or biographers attribute these words to him.

I understand the sentiment of that saying. Basically our lives should point to Jesus in such a way that we shouldn’t need to use words. But this it is only partially true. Yes we are called to be a light among a dark people and others should see that there is something different about us by looking at the way we live and the things we say.  But the gospel message is a verbal message.

Jesus spent a lot of time preaching and teaching. All of his miracles were accompanied by words. He is called “the Word” (John 1). And Paul reminds us in Romans 10:14 that a person cannot come to find salvation apart from hearing the word.

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?

Personally I wish words were not necessary. I feel uncomfortable around people unless they are my good friends. The thought of going up to a stranger and starting a conversation about their need for salvation gives me anxiety. Thankfully that is not the only way to preach the word. A more effective way to share our love for Jesus is through relationships. But these friendships need to be genuine and truthful. People can tell if they are truly loved or if they are simply a project.

Our Confidence

I don’t feel like I am very good with words, especially not when I am face to face with someone. But that is okay. Our confidence should not be in our ability to explain the gospel perfectly (though we should always be working on that) or whether or not we have been persuasive enough.

Our confidence must be in God.

We must be faithful in obedience and then we must trust that the Spirit will use our words to work in the heart of the person we are speaking to as He sees fit. We must sow the seeds in love and let God work.

Remember that God is with us always! He has promised this to us and his immutability and truthfulness ensure that those promises are kept.

Make most of the relationships God places in your life. Live in such a way that will make others take notice and ask question, but also be willing to share the good news of Christ’s sacrifice with words.

Let’s be women who are not ashamed of the gospel but who are so in love with our Saviour that we cannot keep his beautiful message to ourselves.

Looking to Jesus,
jen-sig

 

 

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{Announcing our upcoming spring study…1st & 2nd Peter!}

How, as followers of Christ, can we stand strong in a world filled with persecution, hardships, suffering, division and false-teaching?

God’s Word has the answers! The books of 1 & 2 Peter address these very issues – not only identifying them as real and present dangers – but also practically empowering and equipping weary believers to rise up, suffer well, and press on because of the hope that lives within us! Are you feeling the weight of the world? Have you endured suffering at length with no end in sight? Do you feel more and more like an alien in a foreign land?

Then find HOPE with us as we dive into {1 & 2 Peter}, our brand NEW #LoveGodGreatly 8-week online Bible study!

“As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones are being built up…” ~ 1 Peter 2:4-5

Don’t miss this opportunity to grow and be encouraged in your faith as we study God’s Word TOGETHER! Grab some friends and join us starting March 23rd… it wouldn’t be the same without YOU!

The End Is Near So What Should We Do?

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 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.  As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
I Peter 7-11

If you were told that the world was ending next week, how would you spend the next 7 days?

I think we would probably cancel all our appointments, not go to work, pull the kids out of school and spend time with our families. We would surround ourselves with the people we love most. Well, at least that is what I would want to do.

The passage for today is a strange little passage in that Peter begins it by saying “the end of all things is near.” While we don’t know when the end will come, it does come nearer every day, doesn’t it, and so we ought to ask, what should I be doing if the end is near?

Peter has the answer. He tells us to love one another earnestly (or deeply). We are to do that by showing hospitality and using our gifts to serve others. This is the part that goes against our nature. The end is near and we are to spend it serving and loving others? We tend to be a selfish people who think about self preservation and self care first. But Peters is telling us to go against our natural inclinations and to show hospitality.

To the persecuted

During the persecution of the early church many believers were left with nothing but their lives. Some had to flee their homes and even their countries. If fellow believers did not take them in and share generously with them they would have been destitute.

We are seeing a lot of awful and terrifying acts of persecution against Christians these days. We may not have some of these persecuted people knocking on our door, just yet, but we need to be ready in our minds to selflessly and joyfully come to the aid of those who have lost everything because of their faith. Persecutions doesn’t just come through extremist groups, but even family, bosses and friends can prosecute someone for their faith. Are we ready to step up and help?

To the neighbor

Hospitality means “love for stranger” and all of us are surrounded by strangers.  The people God places in our life are the people we are to love and serve. Whether it means having people into our home to share a meal or whether it means using our gifts to show love and compassion at a soup kitchen. There is no shortage of opportunities and people who need kind words, warms smiles and help.

Good hospital-ity is making your home a hospital. The idea is that friends and family and the wounded and weary people come to your home and leave helped and refreshed.
– Kevin DeYoung

To our fellow believers in Christ

We should make a special effort to love fellow Christians. These are our spiritual brothers and sisters, fellow heirs of the kingdom of God. If we are going to spend eternity together we should get to know one another. We can do this by hosting a Bible study or having people over for a potluck or game night. There are many ways in which we can build relationships and make people feel welcomed and loved.

This takes sacrifice. I’m not really thinking about physical things as much as I am thinking about time. We tend to be quite stingy with our time and it is hard for us to give up our evenings or weekends. If we don’t we will miss out on blessing others and being blessed. We should also trust that God will give us the rest that we need.

To our Family

Sadly this can be the hardest group of people for us to show hospitality to. Do your children love being at home and want to bring their friends over or would they rather be somewhere else?  Does your husband look forward to coming home after a long day at work or does he dread it a bit. How do we love our family? Do we do it grudgingly, with lots of sighs, internal feelings of annoyance and thoughts like “what about me”?

Here is something to think about. How much we love Jesus comes out in the way we care and treat others.

In Matthew 25 Jesus talks about the day of judgement where he will separate the sheep from the goats. And he says to the sheep,

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,”
Matthew 25:35

He calls himself a stranger in need of care and hospitality, but his followers are confused because they don’t remember seeing him in this way. He explains to them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:40

Life is not about material belonging, life experiences or “me time”. It is about people. God is all about relationships and we should be too.

Freely you have received, freely give.
Matthew 10:8

Looking To Jesus,
jen-sig

 

 

Made For Love And Good Works

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A few days ago I felt blah and unmotivated. I was frustrated by all the imperfections I saw in my life.

The following day a friend of mine at church came up to me and started sharing about her week. We were experiencing the same feelings but instead of wallowing together in our misery she started sharing with me some scriptures she had been meditating on. We started brainstorming together about how we could get out of our funk and fight against the temptation to complain.

I had lost my focus and God sent this friend to me to help me take my eyes off of myself and place them back where they belonged, namely on Christ.

In our passage the author of Hebrews want us to get practical. We are to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”

First we need to figure out what he means by love and good works.

Love

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Matthew 22:37-39

Love is affectionate devotion. We are to have it for God first, and then others. Thankfully God doesn’t just issue a cold command. He shows us the way.

The best way to learn this kind of love is to look to Jesus. His love for us is selfless, it does not expect anything in return, it is kind and gentle, sacrificial and unconditional. This is how christians should love each other. We must cultivate real affection for each other and devotion for one another’s good. This is especially true for those who are in your church, community group,Bible studies, family and neighborhood. Love seeks, serves, and sacrifices in joy for what it reflects (the glory of God) and what it does (blesses another).

Love is patient and kind, not envious, boastful, arrogant, or rude (1 Cor. 13).  This love comes out in the way we talk to our friends, comment online and act towards those who hurt or frustrate us. If a friend shares an area of sin, then we must love them like Christ loves them and we must come alongside them and say, “what you are doing is sin, but I love you and am here to pray for you and help you in any way I can.” Love corrects. It saves the weak, it does not ignore or exploit them.

Good Works

Good works are actions and words that flow from faith and a heart that loves. The Apostle Paul talks about good works quite a bit and actually uses this phrase 6 times in the book of Titus alone.

Good works is how we obey God, imitate Jesus, honor fellow believers, care for our neighbors, and how we shine light into a godless society.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 5:16

The christian life is one shared with others and a large part of it is finding ways to inspire each other to follow Christ, practically, in love and good works.

Here are some practical ways we can stir each other up to love and good deed.

1. By getting to know fellow Christians

You are an important part of the body of Christ. You have been given talents and gifts that are to be used for the benefit of others. Getting to know people takes time but it will make your life so much more rich and it will enrich the life of others.

2. By sharing what you are learning

I am always so encouraged when I hear my fiends share what they are studying, learning and reading. It is sometimes the kick in the pants I need to get back to God’s word and other times it excites me to share with them the things that I am learning.

3. By Praying

Never underestimate the power of prayer. God uses it to work wondrous things in the lives of his people. It is easy to say “I will pray for you” and then forget all about it. It might be better to pray for someone first and then tell them that you did.  It is encouraging to know that someone has thought of you and prayed for you.

4. By example

Our lives should be such as men may safely copy. – C. H. Spurgeon

It means taking the high road, forgiving others when they sin against you (and they will), practicing hospitality and speaking kindly of others. It is handling disappointment in a godly way,  visiting someone in the hospital, taking a meal to someone, or babysitting for a worn out mom who desperately needs a date with her husband.

My friends, life is not to be lived alone. We will end up discouraged, worn out, weak and maybe even headed down a wrong path (sometimes without even realizing it). We need each other. We need to learn together and laugh together, we need encouragement and sometimes correction. We need to be loved by others and we need to be reminded of the ultimate love we have in Jesus.

Looking to Jesus,

jen-sig

 

 

 

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Made For The Local Church

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And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers
Acts 2:42

Welcome to week 5 of our Made for Community study. This week we are talking about the fact that we are made for the local church.

Someone once said that many Christians long to be in church but not of it. I would go even farther and say that many professing Christians don’t want to go to church at all. Many feel it is just a duty they need to perform. Some say it is boring, others don’t want to be around a bunch of hypocrites and others have a hard time feeling like they belong.

I am excited to have a special guest with me here today who will help us work through some of these issues.

Joe is a pastor who also happens to be my husband.  I have decided to interview him regarding the Christian’s place within the local church.  I hope it is helpful (and please excuse the interruption, not from my kids, but from our dog! :)

Here are some of the questions that I asked him.

What is the point of the local church? Why was it established?

The reason the church exists is that Jesus Christ has purchased a people for his own possession. The purpose of the church, or it’s mission is to make disciples through evangelism, preaching, teaching and instructing.

Why is it important to be a part of a local church?

There are two reason it is important to be a part of a local church.
1) You cannot be what you are called to be apart from the local church.
We are called to be Christians who are maturing in the faith, growing in grace, through the means of grace as an active member of the family of God.

2) You cannot do what you are called to do apart from the local church
Think of all of those “one another” passages.  We are called to love one another, forgive one another, count one another as more worthy of honor, to exhort one another, rebuke one another, correct and support one another. We are suppose to mourn with those who morn and rejoice with those who rejoice. These commands can really only he fulfilled in the context of the local church.

Why are many hesitant to get plugged in?

Many people have been burned by unhealthy churches or cruel, unkind, and judgmental christians. Others are afraid to join a local church because it requires effort and vulnerability When you join a local church you should be all in serving and getting to know people as well as letting them get to know you. This means that we confess our sins to each other and are honest with each other about our struggles and our failures.
Others are hesitant to join a church because they are turned off by the church’s obsession with entertainment and programs and other superficial things.

In our verse it says that they (Christians) were ”committed to fellowship” or some translations say “to life together”. What does it mean to do life together?

It means that we reject living the life of a mere individual and a life of isolation and instead embrace a life of community and communion together through Jesus Christ. It means that we share our burdens, joys, sorrows, and failures and that we welcome people into our lives and are willing to step into other peoples lives.

How should someone go about finding a good church?

1. Look for a church that is confessional. That holds to a confession or has a clearly stated body of doctrine that can be evaluated to make they are evangelical and orthodox. If you are looking for a presbyterian church then you want to look for one that holds to the Westminster Standards, if you are non-denominational or Baptist then you want to look for a confession of faith .
2. For the preaching you want to look for a pastor who preaches expository messages, going through the text of the Bible and pointing people to Jesus.
3. You want to look for a church that has a plurality of elders that hold each other accountable and are accountable to the congregations. Plus you want to make sure that the leadership is approachable and transparent.
4. Look for the general temperament of the congregation. Are the people friendly and welcoming and are they involved in each others lives.

Challenge:

If you haven’t found a church home start actively looking for one.

If you belong to a church but have been remiss about attending regularly, commit to making this a priority in your life.
For those who attend a local church but aren’t plugged in, find out what your church’s needs are and get involved. Join a small group or start getting to know people in your church through practicing hospitality.

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Looking To Jesus,
jen-sig

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Real Humility and Radical Love

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If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. John 13: 14-15

Do you remember the small bit of hell that breaks out the night of Jesus’ arrest?  We have Judas’ kiss of betrayal, Peter cutting off the ear of the soldier, Jesus healing said soldier as he is being arrested, and the rest of the disciples running scared. By morning even Peter had denied Jesus three times.  But that crazy night actually started with a quiet meal with the 12 disciples.

Jesus spent 3 years doing life with these men. He loved them to death (literally) and he used his last few hours of freedom showing them the way of love. It is at this Passover meal that Jesus institutes The Lord’s Supper as a way to remember what he was about to do for them. But he also got really practical. He took a towel and some water and began to wash his disciples’ feet. His friends were shocked. The disciples had their sandals on all day, their feet were dirty and hot, and Jesus was washing their feet. This was a nasty job typically assigned to a lowly servant.  What was Jesus doing?

Peter misses the point altogether. At first he doesn’t want Jesus to wash any part of him, then as Jesus tries to explain, Peter decides he would like Jesus to not only wash his feet, but his hands and head as well. Peter wasn’t getting it.

Hopefully we won’t miss the point. Earlier this week we talked about the fact that our relationship with God must be primary because all other relationships in our lives will be impacted and directed by it. In our verses for today we see that truth come to life.

Jesus shows us the way of humility and love.

Real Humility

By washing his disciples’ feet Jesus taught us humility. There is no room in the life of a Christian for a holier-than-thou attitude. Jesus, Creator and Ruler of all did not think it beneath him to serve his friends (and even his enemy – Judas).   Humility leads a person to see that all people are equally valuable and in need of kindness. Humility is the heart of one who considers others to be worthy of more honor than herself .

Radical love

If you want to know how to really love someone then look carefully as Jesus washes his disciples feet. Jesus’ love for his friends is seen in both big sacrifice as well as practical service. His love is uncomfortable in that he does for us what we do not deserve. Jesus wasn’t simply teaching his disciples a lesson by washing their feet. He was washing their feet because he loved them.

We too should be willing to show kindness and goodness in small and big ways to those whom God places in our lives. Love for one another will move us to sacrifice and serve; it will lead us to lower ourselves and to exalt another.

Our Lord would have us love others so much that we should delight to do anything which can promote their happiness.
J.C. Ryle

For some of us this may be easy to do with our families, but we may struggle when it comes to those outside of our home. Pray for compassion as well as opportunity to demonstrate it. Some of us find loving people outside our families to be easy and fun, while showing radical love within the home to be much more challenging. Pray for kindness and extra patience.

We look to Jesus as the only one who can save us. But do not forget that the path of salvation Jesus walked for us included sacrifice and service, love and humility. When we find eternal life in him, we find the power to love others as well.

Looking To Jesus,
jen-sig

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