Nine months into the global pandemic of COVID-19, on September 28, 2020, Brian Dickison, Pastor of Gold Creek Church in Woodinville, WA, hosted and interviewed Ted Bradshaw, Founder of The Shepherd’s Fool Ministry, during the Sunday Worship service.
He asked for Ted’s perspective on finding peace during a time of anxiety and fear for many.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9)
TB: I read the end of The Book, and we win!
Our God is Sovereign. Life and death are in His hands. I have surrendered my life to my Lord Christ. I’d like to say with Paul,
For me to live is Christ, to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)
I can say the last part, but I fail to live up to the first part. I am a fallen, but redeemed man. As I have aged, I have come to realize the truth that Paul proclaimed.
Oh, wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death? (Romans 7:24)
The answer is that our Savior shed His blood to cover my sins. Jesus is the life of Christ in me.
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me! (Job 19:25-27)
The second part of the answer is that early in the declaration of a pandemic, we claimed God’s Word:
Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and [b]buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you. (Psalms 91:3-7)
On a material basis: the pestilence is not as serious as they initially gave us to believe. For those who are afflicted, the vast majority recover with no discoverable harm. The deaths occur among “those at risk – specifically among the aged with some other serious lung affliction.” We are discovering the death count has been inflated, in the state of Washington by 13%.
TB: I refer to the Word of the Lord!
Early in our walk with Jesus, Ruth and I were put in an anxious position, not knowing what the future held for us. Yet our faith in the Lord was firm. We knelt down and listed all our needs and gave them to our Almighty, loving Father. He carried us through in great peace, peace that the world cannot give.
It was not until months later we discovered that we were living out God’s word through Paul to the Philippians,
“In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
TB: America! Wake up! You are racing away from God to a precipice of disaster!
You have driven the One True God and Jesus the Savior out of Government, out of our schools, out of the workplace, out of the media, out of entertainment.
We have slaughtered about 63,000,000 of our babies. America is worse than Stalin, who murdered 20,000,000 of his own people, than Hitler who murdered 6,000,000 Jews and ca. 4,000,000 other “unacceptables”, than Mao Zedong who murdered about 60,000,000 of his people.
We have codified in law the abomination of homosexuality. This has opened the door to persecution of faithful believers who, to honor God, will not participate in their celebrations.
Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable. (Leviticus 18:22)
Hurricanes, school shootings, massive forest fires, earthquakes, financial reverses, homelessness, unemployment and pandemics are God’s warnings for America to repent and turn back to Christ.
God sent Prophets to the Chosen People of God in Old Testament times. Today we have the Scriptures to make us wise unto salvation. We have pastors to call us to pray together.
United prayer is more powerful then we can conceive. Unite with other believers to agree in prayer for a Holy Spirit revival that will turn America back from the brink of disaster. It is never too early and it may soon be too late to prevent America the most blessed nation in history from ending on the ash heap of history.
TB: My advice is the same as your Pastors have been adjuring you:
There is a story about a Jewish Rabbi who was training students. He said, “Never forget, repent the day before you die! The students were assiduously taking notes, when one looked up and asked, “Rabbi, we don’t know the day of our death!” The rabbi looked piercingly at the student under bushy eyebrows, “Therefore, repent every day!”
Know and communicate your desires for a funeral or a memorial, for the disposition of your remains. Prepare a will if you have not yet done so, and periodically update it.
Theodore Roosevelt, our nation’s 26th President, said, “What you are to be, you are now becoming.” You cannot count on your youthful metabolism to keep you fit forever. If you carry extra pounds into middle age it will wreak a long-term harm. If you let your muscles atrophy after youthful sports activities are over, you will pay a price in your latter years.
To sum up:
I pray that the Holy Spirit will anoint each person here for the ministry He has for you—that He will endow you with his fruit of the Spirit growing to maturity in your lives. And that each of you will come to the end of your days far more deeply in love with God the Father, Jesus your Savior and the Holy Spirit than you are this day.
To the glory of Christ, Amen.
Ted Bradshaw April 28. 2017
We grieve when a loved one leaves for an extended trip, but it is grief mitigated by the strong expectation that it is just a separation for a time. We can be confident that we will soon be in one another’s arms again.
“But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that fall asleep; that ye sorrow not, even as the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that are fallen asleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left unto the coming of the Lord, shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
Paul has been given a great and glorious revelation of the Lord’s return.
Prior to this, all the believers had was the early revelation to the Disciples on the Day of Ascension.
“And when he had said these things, as they were looking, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they were looking stedfastly into heaven as he went, behold two men stood by them in white apparel; who also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye looking into heaven? this Jesus, who was received up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye beheld him going into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)
While it was a fantastic promise that Jesus would return, it revealed nothing of what the believers would experience when they died.
God in His mercy for the concerns of the ignorant believers, gave this revelation. Again, it is sketchy, but enough to give us hope in our, and our believing loved ones, personal resurrection 2,000 years later.
There has been a concern that cremation instead of burial would interfere with this glorious resurrection.
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will be the first to rise. (1 Thessalonians 4:16)
God plans that we will have new bodies. These will be “celestial bodies”.
“But some one will say, How are the dead raised? and with what manner of body do they come? Thou foolish one, that which thou thyself sowest is not quickened except it die: and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not the body that shall be, but a bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other kind; but God giveth it a body even as it pleased him, and to each seed a body of its own. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fishes. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.” (1 Corinthians 15:35-40)
God does not need the material atoms of our fleshly bodies to give us celestial bodies. Cremation with its dispersal of gasses and the reduction to ash that may blow away the wind is irrelevant. Just as those bodies of sailors who drown in the sea and are eaten, or the bodies of those who die in the wilderness and become carrion are irrelevant.
Our bodies are simply vehicles to transport our persons, our immaterial souls and spirits.
God knows the person that is each one of us. The Creator does not need the elements of our physical bodies to give us new heavenly bodies. He will reclothe each believer’s soul and spirit in an eternal, imperishable celestial body.
People ask what age they will be in heaven when they die. Will babies still be babies? Will youth retain their youth? Will the elderly retain their wrinkles? These are questions from our fixation with time and material. On the contrary, these physical bodies are disposable.
“For in the resurrection, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as angels in heaven.” (Matthew 22:30)
Relationships will be different in Heaven, in a similar way, our spiritual, celestial bodies will be different.
“Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is.” (1 John 3:2)
Since these bodies are irrelevant to God’s kingdom our new bodies will be designed by God.
When the Trumpet sounds and the Archangel shout, then Christ Jesus will appear. The dead in Christ will rise! Dead and alive, alike, will be rescued from global, eternal destruction.
Those who have died will rise first. I do not know if those, who are living will see the dead in Christ arise since it will be the souls and spirits of each deceased believer that our Lord will resurrect. But I expect we will sense them rising because we are soon (immediately) to follow.
I suspect the popular idea of the empty clothes left behind is false. My conception, since we will have celestial bodies too, is that the living believers will, to the eyes of unbelievers, just disappear as Jesus did several times.
Another possibility is that our earthly bodies, no longer needed, will be shucked like snake’s skin, left behind to dissolve with all the material world.
Regardless of the mechanism, the living and the dead will meet beyond the physical world, “in the air”.
Can you imagine the grand a glorious reunion! Believers from Adam and Eve to Abraham and Sarah, to Ruth and Obed to Mary and Joseph, to Aquilla and Priscilla to Martin and Katharina Luther, to Johnathan and Sarah Edwards to George and Martha Washington, to our parents and siblings and children and all our believing friends, meeting together!
“For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
I believe we will know these brothers and sisters intimately just as God knows each one of us.
After glad-handing one another, then and finally, we will be united with our God and Savior, our Father, our Lord, and our Guide and Counselor.
“But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that fall asleep; that ye sorrow not, even as the rest, who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
Hope does not disappoint believers since it is founded on God’s Word.
“Being, therefore, justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; through whom also we have had our access by faith into this grace wherein we stand; and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we also rejoice in our tribulations: knowing that tribulation worketh steadfastness; and steadfastness, approvedness; and approvedness, hope: and hope putteth not to shame; because the love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us.” (Romans 5:1-5)
Do you not see the promise in this?! Nothing can separate us from the love of God. And nothing can separate us from the ones He loves. Death is but a temporary absence one from another. Death is no more than an “extended-trip-to-the-grocery-store” absence from one another.
Just so, in a believer’s death. Jesus has promised, We WILL be in one another’s arms again, and soon!
Yes! There is great comfort in this promise for those who truly trust in Christ!
Read a Prayer for the Deceased.
C.S. Lewis writes,
All our merely natural activities will be accepted if they are offered to God, even the humblest, and all of them, even the noblest, will be sinful if they are not. Sermon preached, October 1939, Learning in War-Time
The glory of God, and, as our only means of glorifying him, the salvation of the human soul, is the real business of life. Christianity and Culture, Christian Reflections.
For Christians, “the real business of life” is evangelism. Initially, one believer told an unbeliever what they had found in Christ. It was a part of the life of the believer to share his or her gift of truth with those without. As the church became transformed from an outcast faith into a state-recognized force, evangelism, became a lessening of a neighbor-telling-neighbor. Increasingly parents nurtured their children in the faith. Living in a Christian culture reinforced the nurture provided by parents.
For centuries, the assumption was that the children of believers would by nurture grow up to be Christians. The only evangelism was among the unreached people, and that was the work of the missionary.
This is no longer true.
From the time children leave home to go to school, many if not most of the believers’ children are lured away for the faith by education, the media and peers.
In today’s culture, the assumption that most Americans (or for that matter, those in Western Nations, the “Bastion” of Christianity) are Christians or at least have a basic knowledge of Christianity is false. For two generations, people have grown up unchurched and without basic Christian education. No longer do churches conduct tent revivals with sinners, treading the sawdust trail to be saved. We no longer experience desperate sinners darkening the doors of churches seeking deliverance. Churches rarely, if ever, have an evangelical sermon preached concluding in an altar call.
Believers in the face of a hostile culture do not want to participate in a programmatic evangelistic push.
The question is not what we want to do, but the imperative of our Savior.
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion for them, because they were distressed and scattered, as sheep not having a shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest indeed is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth laborers into his harvest. (Matthew 9:36-38)
“Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh the harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white already unto harvest. He that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal; that he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.” (John 4:35-36)
“And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
“Then opened he their mind, that they might understand the scriptures; and he said unto them, Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name unto all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. Ye are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I send forth the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city, until ye be clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:45-49)
“and, being assembled together with them, he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, said he, ye heard from me: for John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence. They therefore, when they were come together, asked him, saying, Lord, dost thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father hath set within his own authority. But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:4-8)
This is truth:
Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. (Joshua 1:6-7)
Ye are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send forth the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city, until ye be clothed with power from on high. (Luke 24:48-49)
It is my understanding that the members of evangelical churches have surrendered their lives to Christ and are safe from the wrath of God against sin. Believers have been adopted into the family of God. We are secure through this life and into eternity. There we will be blessed with God’s love forever. What a fantastic and wonderful truth! This is a promise of God that cannot be broken. We among all people are greatly blessed.
These Promises are not ours to keep, but our Lord Jesus has given them to us to share. What an extraordinary privilege we have, to give to those who are destitute. They are as Paul described,
Wherefore remember, that once ye, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision, in the flesh, made by hands; that ye were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (Ephesians 2:11-12)
People without Christ, have no experience of the love of God in their lives. They are unaware that they are doomed to an eternity of torment, separated from the love of God. What they do not know will hurt them not only greatly, but eternally.
Our love for our Father should impel us to share the wonderful news of Jesus’ offer to all. Our desire to obey our Master’s voice should motivate us to witness to God’s glorious offer to trade a tattered and terminal life for a life of joy in Christ that is eternal and incorruptible.
I propose every church develop a program of Evangelical Outreach, seeking to reach beyond our comfort zone of the people within our frame of reference.
Jesus said that his Disciples, who lived with him and soaked up his teachings, did not have what it takes to do the work of the ministry. What they lacked was the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
Too many churches lack the power of the Holy Spirit. We are caught in the interim between salvation and the empowerment to share the wonderful gift we have received.
We need to build into our congregations the culture of openness to the Holy Spirit’s power for personal evangelism and organizational evangelism. It begins with an emphasis from the pulpit that Jesus has charged all of us, who are sons and daughters of Almighty God, to share the Gospel with the destitute and to receive the empowerment of the Spirit to do so.
I propose a sermon series on Evangelism (4-6 weeks)
I propose in addition a series of classes in Evangelism to Individuals
I call upon the leaders of the churches to become proactive to determine the type of outreach evangelism and commit to it. Start with promotion from the pulpit, in newsletters and leaders personally promoting it among the membership. While it may be headed by anyone in the church, the effort must be approved and promoted by and involvement of the leadership.
Let’s share the joy of salvation through the blood of Jesus, and the assurance of an eternity in the holy presence of our Lord!
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us.This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. (1 John 4:1-6)
I spent some time examining the websites of the United Church of Christ, the United Presbyterian Church, the United Methodist Church and the Lutheran Church. It was frustrating trying to discover what they believe.
For some Denominations it was hard to even find a page that stated what they believe. In all, but the Lutheran Church, there is an absence of definition in their statements. While they affirm that Jesus Christ is the head of the church, their statements are squishy. It is hard to get a grip on where they stand on basic doctrines of the Trinity, who Jesus is, the sinfulness of mankind, the need of salvation, what salvation is, and the meaning of Communion and Baptism.
John instructs us to be skeptical. Not every spirit is of God.
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)
What is the will of the Father?
This is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:40)
It seems to me this is very simple and straightforward. If the truth is so simple, then why is it so hard to discover it in reading through the statements of these denominations? Why do they cloak God’s message in platitudinous statements about unity, service, acceptance, embracing everyone wherever they are theologically?
I’m with John:
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)
I’m skeptical. If one is unwilling to state what the Bible says,… If one is unwilling to quote from the Bible, it makes me suspicious that they are trying to hide from something. It puts me in mind of a certain couple who sewed leaves together and hid in the bushes, because they were hiding from the truth.
Are these Denominations hiding from the truth? I know they are. I experienced firsthand their attempts to obscure their deviation from the truth of Scripture by the flowing language of inclusiveness, and the moral uprightness of defending the weak and effusive fretting over the sacredness of the planet.
John makes it very clear:
This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and is already in the world. (v. 2 & 3)
The dividing line between truth and lie is Jesus Christ.
Paul speaks directly to Timothy and us.
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word, be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine, but they will gather to themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, having itching ears, and they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn to myths. (2 Timothy 4:1-4)
We are seeing the signs in the Christian community of listening to teachers who explain away the plain truth if Scripture. We see churches who embrace feel-good doctrines that are strongly opposed in Scripture.
It appears that because the condemnation of sin stings their souls, these churches and denominations avoid mention of sin and the need for salvation. Of course they must also ignore the redemptive work of Christ on the cross.
Instead they preach a gospel of works salvation. They promote teachers and preachers that baptize their lusts and sanctify works to better the lot of people in this world. Tragically, like the Pharisees of old, they give their converts no hope of eternal life.
Now this seems far removed for us. We are not in an apostate Denomination, so why should we care?
These Denominations affect us with their false doctrines by being the major players to whom the world turns to get the “official Christian view” of the issues of the day. They weigh in on the ungodly side of social issues, abortion and homosexuality. They make it appear to the decision-makers that they proclaim God’s truth. Anyone who upholds the “ancient” teaching of the Bible is part of a fringe group and can be ignored.
The result in America is legislation that has condoned a severe decline in morality.
The result has been the growing trend of excluding the Lord Jesus Christ from American society.
The result has been a dumbed-down morality to the extent that anything goes. Even among believing Christians sex without marriage is common, divorce is common. Even among evangelical churches acceptance of abortion and homosexuality are creeping in.
To clarify, all these sins are to be condemned, but the repentant sinner is to be loved and embraced.
The fact is that the enemy of our souls has not only his foot in the door of America, but has been invited to come in and sit down. Our culture is becoming more and more uncomfortable for believing Christians. We can no longer assume that anyone around us is a believer. It is becoming harder to find believers so we can have close fellowship.
This tragic truth means that:
They are of the world, and therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. (v. 5)
Therefore, we must follow John’s advice:
You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (v. 4),
You and I must know what Jesus has done in our lives that make us true Christians. We must humbly acknowledge that we are sinners; that we need a Savior; that Jesus is the God/man Who is our Savior; and that there is no other. Indeed, we are sinners, but wonderfully saved by the grace of God and the Blood of Christ.
We must be rock-solid in the knowledge of the truth that you and I are children of God. Unhappily, we must be aware that most of those around us are not. As Children of God, we are joint heirs with Christ. The Holy Spirit dwells in us. Conversely, most of those around do not have the Spirit of Christ and, tragically are in fact on the road to spend eternity in Hell.
God is our Farther, and has poured out upon us such a gift of love that our hearts cannot contain it. Unhappily, we spend too much attention on living in this world and too little time with Jesus. We spend too little time appreciating what wonderful things He has for us.
When we realize who we are in Christ we can stand in His power against all the forces in the world
… because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)
You, who are here, are the over-comers Jesus talked about. You can overcome.
Turn to the person next to you and say, “In Christ, you are an over-comer!”
Jesus overcame Satan by the Sword of the Word of God. Is there sin in your life? Have you confronted the ways you are living that are contrary to the Word of God? You, too, can defeat temptation and sin. You need to hide God’s Word in your heart so you will not sin. Sin gives Satan an entry point into your life. You do know that, don’t you? Sin in your life is the doorway that allows Satan free access. He is the Accuser of the brethren, and so he has a legal right to mess with us because of sin in our lives
The Holy Spirit will honor your efforts against sin and strengthen you to resist. You need to memorize Scripture so you are ready with an answer for the hope that is in you. You need to ask the Lord God Holy Spirit to give you a testimony to the faithfulness of God in your life. We are God’s people in a dying world.
John, in this epistle, talks a great deal about love. The love of God in our hearts should stir our hearts with compassion for the lost. They are on the road to Hell. There they will have only unutterable misery. In Dante’s Inferno, he labeled the gate of Hell, “Abandon Hope, All Who Enter Here”.
We are the ones who have the hope of Christ’s redemption to offer the hopeless in the world all around us.
Look in your kit bag and inventory the resources you have available to share God’s love.
Now that you have inventoried these and others, examine them. How polished with use are they? How sharp is your sword of the Spirit? How current is your testimony? How fresh is your conversation with the Lord Jesus? How full are you of the Holy Spirit’s power?
If your inventory reveals some flaws, turn them over to the Lord for refurbishing. Jesus will never leave you in the lurch if you appeal to Him. You always have recourse to all the resources He has for you.
The Holy Spirit does not wake us up in the morning and say, “Don” or “Mary” or Gene” or “Cindy, at 10 AM I’m going to bring someone to you, so take these Scriptures with you and polish your testimony, because you will need them.” Just as we do not know the day or the hour when Jesus will return, we do not know when God will bring into our lives “God-incidences” when we have to opportunity to proclaim the gospel to someone.
There was a venerated Rabbi long ago who said to his students, “Repent the day before you die!” They diligently took notes. One stopped and asked, “but, Rabbi, we do not know the day of our death?”
The rabbi responded, “Therefore repent every day!”
Since we do not know when the Holy Spirit will give us the opportunity to glorify Jesus in a conversation, we need to keep our armament of salvation prepared and ready to use; and to keep an ear open to the whispers of the Holy Spirit, “This is the one.”
There are many who will verbally challenge us. I was at a meeting of Real Estate brokers and salesmen; in conversation we exchanged business cards. On my business card I had the Scripture
But now in Christ Jesus ye that once were far off are made nigh in the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13)
When one man read my card, he became angry, “That is offensive!” he said. My response was mild, “but it is true.”
When the negative comes, we must be ready to respond in love and truth.
As you well know, I live by the adage that it is the Christian’s prerogative to bless. I have made it a practice of saying, “God bless you,” to all I meet and greet. Recently, this paid off again. A business associate came to me saying, “You have shown you’re a man of faith. I’m troubled about my faith.” In the subsequent conversation, he was able to unburden himself. God gave me the privilege of leading him in the sinner’s prayer. Then I gave him some guidelines in prayer and Bible study to establish him in either his new-found faith or in his revived faith. Since that time, I have written him with further suggestions for growth.
Do you see how simple it is when you operate in love and make yourself available for the Holy Spirit to use? There are opportunities that He will drop into your lap. People will ask a question that will leave a spiritual opening you can drive a truck through. The Holy Spirit will open these opportunities when He knows that you are prepared.
This takes a reorientation of life. Whose are you? Do you belong to Yourself? Do you belong to the world? Do you belong, heart and soul, to Jesus? Belonging heart and soul to Jesus – that is where you belong.
If you will embrace the truth that you belong to Christ and dedicate your “spare” time to read and study His Word, you will be thrilled with what God will do. Set aside the romance novels, the evening TV, the social media, and even the demanding work. Instead, commit to morning and evening prayer, memorize Scripture, and study devotional classics. When you do, you will find a surprising number of opportunities coming your way. You will find your love for Jesus deepening and discover greater depths of His love for you. You will uncover greater love in your life for others.
Your confidence in Christ will grow so that John’s words will become active in your life/
We are of God, and whoever knows God listens to us. Whoever is not of God does not listen to us. This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (v. 6)
Our confidence in God will enliven our prayers, knowing He is listening. The tighter our relationship with Jesus is the more the Holy Spirit will give us the gift of discernment. John has exhorted us in vs. 2 & 3 to discern spirits–evaluate the desires in our own hearts and evaluate the lives of others. All that is not of Christ is of the antichrist.
This knowledge allows us to choose spiritually what to engage in. The Holy Spirit will use that knowledge to direct us to engage some persons, witness to some, and avoid others.
John tells us that God is love. Does is not stand to reason as you include God more intimately and more consistently in your daily life that you will experience more of His love? As you experience more of God’s love His joy will fill your heart. You will find that you will overflow with joy at just being with Him, at feeding on His Word, and at being in fellowship with other believers. I don’t mean to say you do not have such joys now. I do mean to say that the joy you now have will pale in comparison to what He has in store for you, when you spend more time with Jesus.
Oh, my friends, my brothers and sisters I know that your lives are going to blossom in the love of Christ as you surrender fully to Him.
Precious Jesus, Your love is far beyond our comprehension. We know well and truly that you love us with an everlasting love.
It is a wonder that you have given us the discernment to know Your love and to know those who love you. You have given us the discernment to recognize the marks of an unbeliever. You have given us the power to overcome the evil one and his devices. You have given us the confidence that you hear us.
Therefore give us the further confidence to stride into the world and proclaim Your truth. Give us the courage to declare the reality of sin in the world and your righteousness to those who will listen. Give us the boldness even to proclaim these truths to those who will not listen and to those who resist the truth.
Lord Jesus make us worthy witnesses, to Your glory.