Posts Tagged 'spreading the gospel'

Reaching Sinners

JESUS SPEAKING

Then the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him.  And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”  So he spoke this parable to them, saying:  “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’  I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15: 1-7.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

The religious leaders despised Jesus because he ate with sinners and social outcasts.  The priests and teachers of the law were absolutely obsessed with ritualistic purity.  Most avoided talking too, or even brushing up against those they deemed ungodly. The Jewish people customarily ate food in extremely intimate ways.  They shared cups and dipped bread into communal bowls; eating supper meant sharing saliva; and in turn, they believed that whoever you dined with, you became one with; potentially transferring sins from one person to another.  The Pharisees therefore avoided interacting with sinners. But Jesus saw them as God’s children; He fellow-shipped with them, He ate with them, and He loved them; and as a result, many lost sheep repented and received salvation.

One day a man approached me for help.  He had been a recovering alcoholic for many years, but had fallen back into his old lifestyle.  His clothes were ragged and he smelled rancid; he appeared sick and his hands were shaking badly.  I prayed with the man, bought him some food and gave him a bible; I also helped him to schedule a date to enter a treatment center.  At one point I even had to drive his car.  When I approached the vehicle and opened the door, a plume of awful stench struck my nostrils.  He had been passing out in and urinating all over the front seat.  I didn’t want to endure the horrible smell; nor did I desire to sit in human waste.  But God spoke to my heart; and I instantly understood that getting dirty was, and is, a necessary part of spreading the gospel.  I sat in that unsanitary chair and drove that car; and in turn, God used me to reach a man for Jesus Christ.

Jesus himself wasn’t afraid of getting dirty.  He ate with, lived with, and reached out to sinners.  His most important mission was to save the lost; our mission is the same as His.  We shouldn’t be afraid of getting dirty; nor should we push sinners away. Instead we must embrace them and love them; speaking the truth of the gospel no matter the consequence.  They are God’s children; they are His precious possession; they are the treasure.  No matter how filthy or despicable a person might appear, God will never stop seeking after them; He never grows weary and He never gives up. He is full of mercy and grace, and in Him all repentant sinners can find rest for their souls.

“Lord Heavenly Father, may we always seek the lost.  May we never be afraid of getting dirty.  May all come to repentance and reconciliation with You.  Give us the strength and the wisdom to reach out to others.  Fill our hearts with Your Holy Spirit.  May we be given endless opportunities to testify about Your Son; that the world may come to know of Your awesome gift of salvation.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name, amen.”  God bless all of you! 

The Empty Tomb

JESUS SPEAKING

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?  Whom are you seeking?”  She, supposing him to be the gardener, said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”  Jesus said to her, “Mary!”  She turned and said to him, “Rabboni!  (which is to say, Teacher).  Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God.’” (John 20: 15-18.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

Mary arrived at the tomb to find the stone missing, along with the body of Jesus.  She was immediately grieved and began to weep.  She had journeyed toward the gravesite expecting to find the lifeless body of her beloved Lord; but instead, she encountered the living God.  Upon seeing Jesus, she embraced him tightly; as if to never let him go.  He urged her to lighten her grasp (his return was not permanent; he would soon ascend into heaven.)  His true place was not on Earth with them, but with his Father (and their Father.)  Mary was instructed to deliver this news to the despondent disciples who were hiding out for fear of being killed themselves.  Having seen the resurrected Lord, she became the very first messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Throughout history, many, like Mary, have gone to the tomb expecting to find the body of Jesus; and like Mary, they too have found an empty vault.  Every generation has had its share of doubters; people who believed they could do what no one has ever been able to do […] disprove the resurrection of Christ.  In the early 1900’s an English professor and journalist named Frank Ross set out to investigate and refute the claims that Jesus rose from the dead (as a journalist, he was skilled in examining the credibility of sources.)  As the evidence mounted, Frank was faced with the awesome truth; the accounts matched; the archaeology was sound, and all of the witnesses were credible; Jesus Christ had in fact risen from the dead.  So, rather than writing a book that disproved the resurrection, he entitled his book, “Who moved the stone.”  In the book, Frank Ross, the new convert and faithful believer, sought to bring what he had found to the rest of the world.

The work that began with Mary on that third day has continued through every generation and continues even today.  Anyone who goes looking for Jesus Christ in a dusty tomb is looking in the wrong place.  He is very much alive, sitting at the right hand of God.  Both Frank Ross and Mary Magdalene, set out to find Jesus; and they both found what they were looking for. Have you gone looking for the messiah yet?  Have you made your way to the tomb and looked inside?  You too, will discover that Jesus Christ is not dead, but alive.  Upon finding him, it is then your duty to let others know that there is a God, and that they can discover him too.

“Lord Heavenly Father, we believe that Your Son has risen from the dead; and that He is seated with you in Your Kingdom.  We desire to carry this message to others; give us the strength to bring the gospel to the whole world.  May we be bold in declaring that we have encountered the risen Lord.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.”  God bless all of you!

Persecution

JESUS SPEAKING

                “If the world hates you, you will know that it hated me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own.  Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  Remember the word that I have spoken to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’  If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15: 18 – 20.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jesus was relentlessly persecuted during his earthly ministry.  He was slandered publicly and privately.  He was shunned and ridiculed by many, including several members of his own family.  His message was so offensive that he was nearly stoned to death on a number of occasions (one time an angry mob unsuccessfully attempted to throw him from the precipice of a cliff.)  Eventually, despite every miraculous feat, and act of immeasurable love, Jesus Christ was abandoned by his closest friends; he was bound, beaten, spit upon, and crucified.  Those who willingly choose to follow him can expect to experience similar forms of persecution.

                Eleven of the twelve disciples were brutally martyred for their unwavering faith; and the twelfth was imprisoned until his eventual death.  Every disciple paid the ultimate price for fearlessly spreading the gospel throughout the known world.  Although physical peril is a common type of persecution, it comes in many other forms.  One day as I sat studying in a local coffee shop, I began talking with a Muslim friend concerning the tenants of the Christian faith.  As I presented her with the gospel, a women sitting next to us became visibly upset.  Not knowing that we were already friends, she yelled “Can’t you see she doesn’t want to talk to you about that?”  The woman continued verbally harassing me; making every effort to subvert our conversation.  I looked across the table at my friend and said, “This is the type of persecution that occurs when you become a believer.”  Eventually the woman became so disruptive that we had to end our discussion.

                Persecution is an inevitable consequence of genuine faith.  Those who have never experienced it are likely keeping their beliefs hidden away; preferring safety and security above obedience to the Lord.  Still there are those who boldly spread the gospel message.  They make every effort to lead others to God.  Such individuals love their fellows and serve one another in sincerity of heart.  These bold men and woman can expect to be persecuted.  Persecution in any form, although not very pleasant, is a distinct reminder that we are Christ’s disciples; and that we are earnestly following in the footsteps of our teacher, our master, and our friend.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, provide us with opportunities to preach the gospel to the lost.  May we reach out to those who might choose to become our eternal brothers and sisters.  Strengthen us when we encounter persecution, so we can stand firm in our faith.  Give us the courage to boldly speak the truth that we may continue to emulate Your Son, our savior, Jesus Christ.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.


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