The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Psalm 90 is ascribed to Moses as one of his prayers. Therefore when we study this Psalm we should keep in mind him and the Pentateuch (i.e. the first five books of the Bible) which he was inspired by God to write. In verse 12 of this Psalm a concluding exhortation is given which says, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” How we live our lives is important. That is the crux of this verse. Wisdom is not the mere accumulation of knowledge and facts; it is processing knowledge in a way that solves the problems and questions of life. Moses addresses this question as a prayer to God. This is important. The only way we can answer questions concerning the meaning and purpose of life is by turning to the One who created us, God. Therefore it shouldn’t be surprising to us when Moses begins this Psalm by doing just that.
Moses opens Psalm 90 with the words, “LORD, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (90:1-2). Referring to God as “LORD” is significant because it points us back to Moses first encounter with God. In the wilderness God revealed Himself to Moses by way of a burning bush. Moses had been brought up in Egypt for forty years which climaxed with his futile attempt in his own strength to free his people who were in bondage. The result was a murder that caused him to have to flee for his life. The next forty years were spent in the wilderness of Midian as a sheep herder. God gave Moses a lot of time to think about his life and the meaning of it. At eighty years of age God appeared to Moses and called him to be an instrument of liberation for His people. Moses resisted, but God can be pretty persuasive. At one point Moses said to God, “When I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” God’s answer was, “I AM WHO I AM . . . . Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3). “I AM” means I Am eternal and I Am all that I ever need to be. It is a name that expresses God’s eternal nature; He has no beginning or end. It is a name that expresses God’s total sufficiency; He is eternally all He ever needs to be to fulfill His will in all circumstances. That is the name Moses is inspired to use in the opening words of this Psalm. And that eternal sufficiency is what is expressed in these verses. That is why we need to turn to God first when considering questions on the meaning of life.
The next thing Moses does is contrast this eternal God with temporal humanity. He is inspired to write:
Psalm 90:3-6 - 3 You turn man to destruction, And say, “Return, O children of men.” 4 For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it is past, And like a watch in the night. 5 You carry them away like a flood; They are like a sleep. In the morning they are like grass which grows up: 6 in the morning it flourishes and grows up; in the evening it is cut down and withers.
God is not limited by time. A “thousand years” are nothing to Him; a mere “watch in the night.” God is omnipotent, all powerful and He is Sovereign. God holds our destiny in His hands. “You turn man to destruction. . . .You carry them away like a flood.” Perhaps Moses was reminiscing about when God parted the Red Sea to let His people through and then closing it in on and vanquishing the pursuing Egyptian army (Exodus 14). God is eternal. Humanity is so very temporal and transient, “like grass” that grows and withers so weakly. By making this contrast Moses is subtly pointing out that we humans are very fragile. Our lives are short. Therefore, we need to rise above the mundane present and consider the serious matter of the meaning of life. Before we know it, our end will be here.
The import of considering the meaning of life is amplified by viewing our destiny from the perspective of God as a Sovereign Holy Judge. God is not a deistic distant God who has no interest in the affairs of humanity. He is a Sovereign Royal Overseer who is very much attendant to our lives. Moses continues:
Psalm 90:7-12 - 7For we have been consumed by Your anger, And by Your wrath we are terrified. 8 You have set our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance. 9 For all our days have passed away in Your wrath; we finish our years like a sigh. 10 The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. 11 Who knows the power of Your anger? For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath. 12 So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
When Moses speaks of God’s “anger . . . and . . . wrath” he is pointing out that God is providentially involved with us; the way we live matters to God. “Our iniquities . . . our secret sins” are “before” God. He is omniscient or all knowing. Nothing is hidden from God (cf. Heb. 4:13). The way we live can anger Him and cause Him to respond in wrath. We live “seventy . . . eighty years,” and there are some who live those years with no thought of God in “labor and sorrow” and are “soon cut off . . . and fly away.” Life without God is meaningless. Life without God is sinful. Sin separates us from God (Ps. 66:18; Isaiah 59:2; Hab. 1:13). Those who live in sin, separate from God are destined to experience or know the “power of” God’s anger. Those who live in sin are “by nature children of wrath” (Eph. 2:1-3). Moses says in light of this, “For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath.” In other words we need to live in reverent awe of God who holds such sovereign power over our eternal destinies.
For contemporary eyes the mention of God’s “anger” and “wrath” are often unfamiliar and even unwelcome. Such thoughts don’t jive with the “God” they have conjured with personal opinion. But any view of God that does not depend on God’s own revelation is idolatry. God is not who we say or think He is. God is who He has revealed Himself to be. The prime instrument of God’s self-revealing is His word the Bible. The truth about God is found in His word of truth (John 17:17). These realities may make us uncomfortable, but they are truths we need to factor into our thoughts on the meaning of life. They are not the only factors, but they are factors the wise person needs to consider. Without the revealed just anger and wrath of God we remove the reason for salvation. When the question arises, “What do we need to be saved from?” We are left to shrug our shoulders. No, God is a just judge and man is appointed to die once and then come before God for judgment (Acts 17:31; Heb. 9:27). This is a reality and we would be wise to consider it.
It’s interesting and important to realize that the awareness of the “anger . . . and . . . wrath” of God mentioned here by Moses does not drive the inquirer away from God but instead toward God. Moses, in light of this awesome depiction of God and His Sovereign rule over us, goes to God, saying, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” We might interpret that to mean, “God, in light of this precarious position we find ourselves in teach us how we should live our relatively short lives. Give us the wisdom to live life in a way that is pleasing to You.” This marks a transition in the Psalm. Moses has laid out the plight of humanity; the problem. He has addressed the wrong way to live life; life characterized by “iniquity” and “secret sins” separate from God. Now he directs us to the wise solution.
What is the solution to finding meaning, purpose and satisfaction in life? Moses is inspired to write:
Psalm 90:13-17 - 13 Return, O LORD! How long? And have compassion on Your servants. 14 Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days! 15 Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us, the years in which we have seen evil. 16 Let Your work appear to Your servants, and Your glory to their children. 17 And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands.
The life of iniquity and secret sin inevitably results in distress and misery. There is a penalty for living in sin. If a person lives in sin they reap corruption (Gal. 6:7-9). Living in sin has its own correction and consequences (Jer. 2:19). This is the life principle God has ordained and to which Moses refers to when he says, “according to the days in which You have afflicted us, the years in which we have seen evil.” God allows sin’s consequence. But man’s extremities are God’s opportunities. Turning to the LORD is our only hope.
Moses wonders how long this situation of living under the anger and wrath of God will go on. He turns to the LORD seeking His “compassion.” Moses directs us to turn from our sins to God and seek a change in our relationship with Him. He turns to God knowing and relying on the compassion or consolation of God. God is a God of love. He is Holy, Just, Sovereign and All Powerful, but He is also a God of Holy Love. God is love (1 John 4:8). There is no love like the love of God. Furthermore, Moses points us to God referring to himself and those he represents as “servants.” We need to come before God humbly as servants ready to do whatever He directs us to do. We need to raise the white flag of surrender when we come to God. This is repentance and this is the path to understanding the meaning of life.
Moses cries out, “Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy.” Satisfaction and fulfillment are found in God’s mercy. Justice is getting what we deserve. This is what Moses described earlier in the Psalm when he spoke of God’s anger and wrath on the sinner. Now he comes humbly to God seeking God’s “mercy.” Mercy is not getting what we deserve. We deserve condemnation for our sins but God has made a way that we don’t get what we deserve. Here is where we must introduce the work of Christ. The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed. The New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. The wages of sin is death; we deserve eternal death; separation from God. But God in His grace has provided a means of escape from that debt of a death penalty for our sins. Grace is getting what we don’t deserve. Grace is God’s redemption at Christ’s expense. Jesus has gone to the cross and died as our substitute. He paid the penalty for our sins so that when we put our faith in Him and ask God’s forgiveness for our sins based on His work on the cross and His work alone, God has promised to forgive us (John 3; Rom. 6:23; 5:1; 10:9-10). God is a Just Judge. He rules righteously. He does not merely overlook sin. He applies justice in judgment of sin. He forgives our sin by applying justly the righteous payment for our sin by Christ on the cross to our account when we place our faith in Him. This is the only way we can receive God’s mercy and avoid the death penalty we deserve. No one comes to the Father except though Jesus (John 14:6). God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died or us” (Rom. 5:8). “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). That is the doorway we must pass through to begin to understand and experience fulfillment and meaning in life (John 10:7, 9).
Experiencing the loving compassion and mercy of God through faith in Christ leads to fulfillment and purpose in this great salvation. Moses directs the reader to follow this path so, “that we may rejoice and be glad all our days!” Joy is not mere happiness; it is ultimately an inner assurance and strength rooted in the inner presence of Jesus. This presence of God in us comes when the Holy Spirit dwells in us to give us new life at our conversion (John 14:26; Rom. 8:9-11). The words Moses uses here mean literally to shout for joy. When we deal with our sin problem through the gospel of Christ the burden of sin is lifted and we can jump for joy. Do you have this joy of Jesus in you? Have you experienced this meaningful blessing in your life?
Experiencing the compassion and mercy of God in Christ leads to gladness (vs. 15). It results in changed lives that now see life’s meaning in light of God’s work (vs. 16). The meaning of life is found in first focusing on the work God has done; His work in Christ. Life becomes a beautiful thing when we wisely factor in God as the center of it. “And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands” (vs. 17). Here is the climax and answer to our questions on meaning in life. The answer to these life questions are rely on God’s work in Christ first, then trust Him to lead you and to “establish the work of our hands for us.” God works in us for His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13). His pleasure is a good thing. It’s in seeking His pleasure, not our pleasure in life that we find meaning, purpose, and satisfaction in life. Therefore our prayer should be for God to teach this to us and those around us. Our prayer should be, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Friday, September 24, 2010
Many tender-minded Christians fear to sin against love by daring to inquire
into anything that comes wearing the cloak of Christianity and breathing the
name of Jesus. They dare not examine the credentials of the latest prophet
to hit their town lest they be guilty of rejecting something which may be of
God. . . .This is supposed to indicate a high degree of spirituality. But in
sober fact it indicates no such thing. It may indeed be evidence of the
absence of the Holy Spirit.
Gullibility is not synonymous with spirituality. Faith is not a mental habit
leading its possessor to open his mouth and swallow everything that has
about it the color of the supernatural. Faith keeps its heart open to
whatever is of God, and rejects everything that is not of God, however
wonderful it may be.
³Try the spirits² is a command of the Holy Spirit to the church (1 John
4:1). We may sin as certainly by approving the spurious as by rejecting the
genuine. . . .To appraise things with a heart of love and then to act on the
results is an obligation resting upon every Christian in the world.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Jesus was a Man of God’s word. He is described as “the Word made flesh” (John 1:14). He is the manifestation and culmination of God’s word. The entire Bible speaks of Him (Heb. 10:7). God’s purpose for us is to become like Jesus (Rom. 8:29). If that is to happen an essential indispensible ingredient is to become people of God’s word like Jesus. In Luke 4 we see Jesus, Man of the word depicted for us. Our calling is to follow His example.
When Jesus, “filled with the Holy Spirit,” was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness” to be “tempted for forty days by the devil” He went with God’s word in mind (Luke 4:1-2). Because Jesus had God’s word memorized and embedded in His heart He was able to ward off the temptations of the devil (Luke 4:3-13). Even when the devil attempted to misuse the scripture itself in his attack, Jesus, knowing the context of scripture, was not duped but was able to answer the adversary. If we are to survive our wilderness experiences and times of temptation, and attacks of the devil, we need to be like Jesus and have the word of God firmly embedded in us through memorization. And we need to know God’s word in context so that we don’t fall prey to those who would take it out of context. We need to be students of God’s word (2 Tim. 2:15). We need to know “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).
The victory in the wilderness empowered Jesus. It states, “Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14). His successful resistance to temptation led to empowerment. His familiarity with and use of God’s word was integral to this. Jesus was powerful because He was a man of God’s word. Every time we apply God’s word and resist the devil’s temptations or the lusts of our flesh we get stronger spiritually. That is a principle. Sow to the Spirit and reap a harvest of righteousness. The opposite is true too. Sow to the flesh and reap corruption. We are exhorted by the Lord in His word to “not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart (Gal. 6:7-9). Don’t give up! Obey God’s word! Apply it to life in the power of the Spirit and you will increase your spiritual strength.
When Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit He became popular. The Spirit made Him known throughout the entire region. But Jesus was not influenced by the crowds. He returned to His home town of Nazareth. He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and was handed the book of Isaiah (Luke 4:14-17a). Then it states, “And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:” (Luke 4:17b). Jesus “found the place” in God’s word; He was familiar with God’s word. Jesus was a student of God’s Word. He knew exactly where to look in God’s word for pertinent information for the given situation. That tells us He knew the word of God. Jesus was a man of God’s word. We need to know God’s word and be familiar with it. We need to be able to apply God’s word and be ready to share it pertinently in the circumstances of life. Learn to speak with God’s word in the conversations of life. That is God’s will for us.
Because He was a man of God’s word He was able to read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me . . .” (Luke 4:18). The Spirit being upon Jesus and the Lord’s anointing were the result of Jesus being a Man of God’s word. He was empowered and was able to confidently apply the scriptures to Himself because He knew the word of God. As a man of God’s word He knew He was anointed by God” to preach the gospel to the poor, . . . heal the brokenhearted, . . . proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” He knew His calling and purpose and confidently walked in them because of the certainty He had in God’s word. He knew God’s word and where He stood in relation to it enough to say, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:20-21). If we want the power and anointing of the Spirit and to know and confidently walk in our calling and purpose, then we too must be people of God’s word. Otherwise we will be like sheep wandering aimlessly without a shepherd. We need to heed the revelation of God’s word (Mark 6:34).
When Jesus shared the word His listeners, “marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth” (Luke 4:22). Jesus spoke the uncompromising truth of God’s word in a gracious way. He taught God’s word in a way that identified sin but always accompanied that with pointing people to God’s grace. The grace of God was upon Him from birth (Luke 2:40). He was full of grace and the truth of God’s word (John 1:14; 17:17). The grace He embodied was the ultimate goal of the Law (John 1:17; Gal. 3:10-13). We need to receive and share God’s grace based on His word.
Jesus’ familiarity with God’s word also enabled Him to make true assessments of people and His life situations. He was not deluded by the fancy of humanity. He knew the whimsy and waywardness of sinful humanity. He shared this honestly and openly (Luke 4:23). He spoke truthfully with the people and applied God’s word to their lives even if it ruffled some feathers. He spoke of how previous generations of Israelites had rejected God and His word. He was not intimidated by their anger but meekly passed through the midst of them (Luke 4:24-30).
There’s a consequence to rejecting God’s word. God through the prophet Hosea said of His people, “I have written for him the great things of my law, but they were considered a strange thing” (Hosea 8:12). They had allowed God’s word to become “a strange thing” to them. They were unfamiliar with it. It had lost its importance in their lives. They lost sight of the treasure of God’s word. They turned to worldly pagan alternatives to God’s word. God brought discipline and firm judgment on His people because they rebelled against His Law (Hosea 8:1). God said of those ignorant and rejecting of His word, “their heart is divided” (Hosea 10:2). Without God’s word as our source of absolute truth we degenerate into idolatrous self-serving gods of our own tossed to and fro with every wind and wave of religious or worldly teaching (Eph. 4:14). This ultimately leads to us being cheated out of God’s best for us (Col. 2:8).
God’s people also relied on false idols and as a result had become hardened toward God. Through Hosea God said, “The inhabitants of Samaria [i.e. the capitol of the northern kingdom of Israel] fear because of the calf of Beth Aven. For its people mourn for it, and its priests shriek for it - because its glory has departed from it” (Hosea 10:5). Israel was mourning and shrieking in agony before a calf god idol! They had forsaken the One True God and His word and the result was a pitiful delusion. Today people are mourning their financial plight. They weep in the vicinity of the Wall Street bull because Ichabod is written where prosperity used to be. Is there any doubt that we as a people and nation and even throughout the world are shrieking over the idol of mammon? We have made money our god, our idol. The glory has departed and we mourn. And unfortunately this is true in much of the church as well.
Whenever we neglect or reject God’s word or rely on an alternative it leads to sin, spiritual dullness, and a hardening of our heart. The word of God is able to tell us exactly where we are with the Lord. It “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). It is like a mirror that gives us the correct reflection of who we are (James 1:22-25). In God’s word we are exhorted to ask God to, “search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:23-24). We need to go to God prayerfully with an open Bible before us.
Through Hosea God called to Israel and He still calls to us saying, “Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, till He comes and rains righteousness on you” (Hosea 10:12b). The coldness we see in hearts today is directly related to a departure from God’s word (Mat. 24:12). Instead of mourning and shrieking over the idols of this world we should be mourning over our sin before the One True Holy God. We need to break up our own hard hearts before the Lord. Isaiah in the presence of Holy God said, “Woe is me, I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5). When was the last time you mourned before the Lord and cried out anything like that? “A broken and contrite heart – these O God, You will not despise” (Ps. 51:17). We and our nation are too concerned with the banking of the Lord. God just may break our banks to break us. We need to be broken before the Lord. That will only happen, that can only happen, if we return to God’s word. Being a person of God’s word is essential to a true assessment of others and ourselves.
Jesus, Man of God’s word, ministered with authority. What He said and did was powerful because it was rooted in and based on God’s word. Those who heard Him teach, “were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority” (Luke 4:31-32). Demons left at His word (Luke 4:33-35). People were amazed at the power of the Lord. They exclaimed, “What a word this is! For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out” (Luke 4:36). How sad it is that the people of Jesus day were so unfamiliar with God’s word. What an indictment it is against the ministers of that day that the people were so ignorant of God’s word. God through Hosea said similarly, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). He called out, “Hear the word of the LORD, you children of Israel, for the LORD brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land: There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land” (Hosea 4:1). How could this be? What was the cause of this indictment? The answer was, “Because you have forgotten the law of your God” (Hosea 4:6). Gods people forsook His word and “willingly walked by human precept” (Hosea 5:11). How sad it is when people rely on human opinion or precepts instead of or in a place superior to God’s word. There’s little power in personal opinions. The power of God is in His word.
The word of this Man of God’s word was circulating throughout the land (Luke 4:37). There’s something about God’s word that impacts people. It is God’s word! God’s word is powerful (Heb.4:12). And therefore ministry and what is done in the name of the Lord is powerful in proportion to the amount of God’s word that is in it. God magnifies His word above His own name! (Ps. 138:2). God honors and empowers His word. Human opinion is a vapor. God’s word is a solid rock foundation (Mat. 7:24). Be a person of God’s word.
Lastly, Jesus, Man of God’s word, healed the sick and defeated demons but priority and prime purpose was, “I must preach the kingdom of God” (Luke 4:38-44). Jesus’ purpose was to share the kingdom of God. The way He did that was by sharing the word of God. That must be our priority and purpose too. If we are to fulfill and experience God’s ultimate purpose we will need to become people of God’s word who share God’s word with others. There’s no getting around this. We need to get into God’s word and let it get into us. And then we need to share it from our hearts and minds where it has been cultivated and grown. Jesus was and is a Man of God’s word. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Mat. 24:35). Are you a person of God’s word like Jesus?
Monday, September 20, 2010
“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” – Ephesians 5:15-16
The video at the end of this article depicts events that occurred this year in the Wellesley Public Schools in New England. There is a determined and diligent effort to remove any trace of Christianity from public schools under the premise of separation of church and state. A study of our history reveals the strong, vital, and necessary presence of Christianity permeating our country. Just take a walk through Washington and count the Biblical allusions and quotes. And as far as “separation of church and state” is concerned, this is not an assertion based on our Constitution. It is a phrase found in a letter written by Thomas Jefferson who was reasoning that the state should not establish religion. Our Founding Fathers, wanted freedom of religion not freedom from religion.
In our public schools the false and incorrectly interpreted notion of “separation of church and state” is used to discriminate. Tolerance is the rallying cry of those who have agendas supporting immoral behavior and certain political perspectives. But some things are tolerated more than others. If you have a Christian world view you may not be allowed to graduate. Christian children and teachers are admonished for bringing their Bibles to school or mentioning the name of Jesus. When Christianity is depicted in school books the good influences, achievements and gospel are neglected. Christianity, when mentioned, rather than being honestly portrayed, is primarily associated with atrocities committed by unbelievers under the banner of “Christianity.” Christianity is portrayed as a religion of violent antisocial buffoons. Christianity is portrayed to be more of a work of the devil than a gracious Holy God.
Why then, as this video depicts, do some schools go out of their way to not only present Islam in a favorable light, but facilitate the exposure of our children to a view of Islam in a positive light? Why are schools so subjectively against Christianity and open to Islam? Watch the video. It will make you think. It should concern you. It is one thing to encourage a dialogue about religion. It is quite another thing to introduce a propagandized and false presentation to impressionable children. As the video comments, our schools and government officials are letting us down. Supporters of Islam are crossing the line to influence our children. People and especially parents need to be vigilant and get involved. This is not right. We need to walk circumspectly viewing everything through the lens of scripture with the discernment of the Spirit. A fool is someone who fails to factor God into their life equation (Psalm 14:1). We need to stop foolishly neglecting our responsibilities to be involved as salt and light in the various areas of life (Mat. 5:13-16). And when it comes to the welfare of impressionable children we need to especially stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves (cf. Mark 10:13-16).
If religion is discussed in schools, then it should be done in an objective and truthful way. Christianity can stand on its own and prove victorious when given a fair consideration with religious alternatives. We should never fear comparisons or dialogues with worldlings, cultists or religionists. We have the truth! We have the light! We have the One TRUE God in Christ as revealed by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said His truth would set the sinner free (John 8:31-32). But when truth is stifled deception is welcomed. Where deception and falsehood are welcomed the devil is at work (John 8:44). Pray about this and follow the leading of the Lord.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
“Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding” – John 2:2
A wedding is a rite of passage from singleness to married life. Marriage is important:
1. God created marriage to solve the problem of loneliness.
2. God created marriage to multiply families and to perpetuate a godly legacy.
3. God created marriage to mirror His image and relationship to People.
4. God created marriage as the place where me, myself, and I become WE
5. God created marriage as an instrument of His love.
Jesus performed His first miracle at a wedding He had been invited to (John 2). The first invitation sent out for this wedding was to Jesus. The first RSVP we received back was from Jesus. Jesus is here today. He is at the center of this wedding. Jesus is our Most Honored Guest.
It’s not every day that a father gives away his daughter as a bride and performs the wedding. This wedding is a highlight of my life, my wife’s life, Rachel and Eric’s lives and the lives of their families. It’s a most special day. I’m giving away and wedding my precious Rachel, my precious Chee-chee. And I’m gaining a great new son in Eric. This day is second only to my day of salvation and ranks up there with my own wedding day.
So I wanted to make sure it’s done right. I wanted to make sure I did my part to make this day as perfect as possible. I know on my own that couldn’t happen. I asked Jesus for help.
As I thought about the wedding and what to say, I prayed. And one night the Lord told me Just tell them what you know is in My heart for them. Tell them what I’ve already said in My word. I said, “Okay Lord. That’s perfect!”
This is what the Lord directed me to say:
Tell Eric I love him. Tell him to love Rachel like I love My Bride the Church. She’s his girl now. He must love her selflessly. He must be willing to die for her, not only physically, but he must be willing to die to self and put her first. He must love her in word and deed with My love. I will give him that love by My Holy Spirit. Tell him to pray for his bride, to build her up. Tell him to always encourage her to come to Me. Tell him the closer she is to Me, the better wife to him she will be.
Tell Rachel I love her. Tell her to respect Eric. He’s her man now. She needs to build him up and encourage him. She needs to share her heart with him. She needs to support and submit to his decisions. She needs to pray for him. Tell her to always encourage him to come to Me. Tell her the closer he comes to Me, the better husband to her he will be.
Tell this new couple that once they are newly married they will face many challenges and adjustments. Two becoming one is a beautiful thing but like any work of art it takes a lot of hard work. They will have to work on building their relationship. They will have to work on family building. As they minister together for Me it will get hard at times. They will encounter trials in this life. They may have to deal with illness, financial strains, family and other issues. Their faith will be challenged. I will challenge them. But tell them to trust in Me always and I will help them get through with flying colors.
Tell them to remember My words:
“With . . . God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26) . . . he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:11-12). “. . . ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Acts 20:35). “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: . . . (Matthew 7:24).
Tell the parents, I love them. Support Eric and Rachel. Encourage them. Respect their privacy and marriage but be there for them when they ask you for advice. Help them out in every way you can. They are married but they are still your children. Love them.
Tell the family and friends of Eric and Rachel that I love them. Tell them to support Eric and Rachel and pray for them often. Tell them to encourage them and bless them. Tell them to ask Me how to bless them and I will tell them what to do.
Tell those here who don’t yet know Me that I love them. Tell them I’d like to have a close relationship with all of them but for that to happen they must be born again; birthed spiritually. Tell them I know all their reasons for not knowing Me personally like they should. I know their doubts and fears, disappointments and excuses. Tell them to come and discuss it with Me. Tell them to look at what I’ve said in My Word. None of their reasons are good enough. They are separated from Me by their sin. Tell them to turn from their sin to Me and I will forgive them. I have made a way for their sins to be wiped clean by My death on the cross. I’ve proven that with My resurrection. Tell them if they forsake their sins and ask My Father to forgive them based on faith in Me, He will forgive them. If they do that they will be filled with the Holy Spirit who will help them know Me. They will receive eternal life, and we’ll start a personal relationship that will never end and only grow deeper and better.
Tell them to remember My words:
“the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10). “. . . the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. (John 6:37) “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; . . . . (John 6:44). “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. (John 6:47). . . . The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63). “. . . “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6). “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. . . . He who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says . . . .” (Revelation 3:20, 22).
Jesus said to me, “One last thing, tell everyone I’m coming back soon! And tell them when I do return I’m going to have My own wedding (Rev. 19:7-9). Everyone is invited, but you have to receive My invitation and come in My name. Tell them I’d love to have them come to My wedding, but they have to be dressed properly to attend. They must be wearing My robes of righteousness, otherwise they will not be allowed to enter My wedding feast. These robes are free from Me, all they have to do to get them is forsake their sin, ask My Father to forgive their sin, and do so by faith in Me, Jesus, King of kings and Lord of lords (Mt. 22:1-14; Isaiah 61:10; Rom. 13:14). Hope you will all be ready when I come and I especially hope you’ll all attend My wedding, My Bride is beautiful. Love you all.”
Thank you Jesus, for being our Most Honored Guest.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Does it really matter what we consume, what we eat, what we watch, what we listen to? Some people live as though it really doesn’t matter. Does it matter what we eat? Well, if we eat too much ice cream at one sitting we get brain freeze. If we try to live on cotton candy it may taste good but we will die of malnutrition. If we eat foods high in saturated fat we will be fat. Obesity and its related problems is estimated to cost the country approximately 50 billion dollars a year. The government is estimated to spend one billion dollars a year on nutritional education.  They must feel it’s somewhat important to teach people how to eat.  So it would seem there is evidence that it does matter what we eat, what a person consumes with their mouth.
Does it matter what we watch? Well someone thinks it does - advertisers. In 2008 Outsell Inc. estimated that in the United States alone advertisers spent $412 billion, 400 thousand dollars (that’s $412, 400,000,000!). For perspective up until 2008 the Iraq war had cost $558 billion dollars. The junk food industry spends over 11 billion dollars a year in advertising. Advertising is all about influencing consumers to buy products. Businesses would not be spending that kind of money if there wasn’t a profitable reason to do so. What sells in advertising? Advertisers and the evidence show that sex sells best. Pornography is a multibillion dollar a year industry. Why is it so popular? It’s popular because people can indulge the lust of their eyes in secrecy. The vast majority of sexual offenders started feeding their addiction with pornography and like any other addiction it grew until they were unable to contain their urges with only what they watched but it spilled over into what they needed to do. Apparently it does matter what a person watches, what a person consumes with their eyes.
Does it matter what we listen to? Well, if you listen to music, any music too loud for an extended period of time, your hearing will be harmed and you could go deaf. This is a real problem today with the advent of earphones and the constant listening to music. If you’ve been raised without being exposed to four letter curse words and you sneak out and go to a movie that uses four letter curse words, then you learn four letter curse words and they are added to your vocabulary. If you listen to music that uses profanity or vulgarity it has a way of permanently registering in your minds. One day when you’re in the heat of an argument and emotions are running high, you just may use one of those words you’ve been exposed to and consumed. In 2008 $4.2 billion dollars was spent on teen related music alone. Did you know that music has been shown to affect plants? That’s right. A California Science Fair experiment showed that plant growth was affected in various ways by being exposed to various kinds of sound. Silence grew the best plants. The spoken word, then classical music had the healthiest affect while heavy metal type music led to the weakest of the plants.  This is preliminary study. We can’t draw conclusions other than to say that sound does indeed affect plant growth.  If sound affects plants, it’s likely that sound affects people. Studies show that music can affect your moods.  So what you listen to, what you consume with your ears, does appear to matter.
It would seem then that common sense and some simple observations dictate that it does matter what a person eats, watches, and listens to. It would appear that we need to discriminate the good from the bad, what builds us up from what tears us down. It shouldn’t surprise us. This has been the message of God from the beginning.
God created us. You may not want to believe that but it’s true. The One who created us knows what is best for us. He tells us we need to discern and discriminate between the good and the bad in life. Because of sin our world has been polluted with a lot of bad things; things that keep us from God and His best (e.g. Rom. 8:18-25). When we disregard or disobey God and His word it leads to slavery; addiction (John 8:34). God loves us so much and wants the best for us (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8; 8:37-39). Because of God’s love He calls us to live a holy life. Holiness is a call to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Deut. 6:5; Mat. 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). Holiness is rooted in God’s love. To live a holy life is to respond in trust to God because of His love for us. We know God loves us. We love Him. And therefore we trust Him enough to obey Him. Jesus said, “He who has My commandments and keep them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21). Because He loves us He instructs us to stay away from things that will hinder our relationship with Him and hurt us in various ways. Holiness therefore involves separation. We need to discern and discriminate between what facilitates holiness and what defiles us.
The apostle John explained holiness in the following way:
1 John 2:15-17 - Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
There are things that will keep you from experiencing God’s love to the fullest. God will always love you, but some things will keep you from experiencing that. Some things put a wall up between us and God. Some things deafen us to His voice. Some things slow us down in our walk with Him. Some things will even snuff out dead the seed of His Word. Jesus said some people have hard hearts that won’t even entertain the good news and light of His gospel. He said some people receive His gospel but only in a shallow way so that when hardship comes they wilt and forsake Him. Others receive His gospel word but the things of this world choke it off. Then there are some who receive the gospel deep in their hearts and it grows making them spiritually healthy and fruitful (Mat. 13; Mark 4). The way you respond to the gospel and word of Jesus is determined to by how you consume it. Some leave it outside on the surface and it’s stolen away. Some receive it superficially and it withers away. Some add it to all the other stuff in their lives and it is neglected away. But some take it in and let it go down deep into their being and it grows and changes them.
God in the Bible calls us to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Eph. 4:23). God in His word tells us, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:2). If we try to live by consuming the things of this world we’ll be cheated out of God’s best for us (Col. 2:10). We need to change our patterns and practices of consumption. That’s something only God can do in us. That is something that can only happen when we accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (2 Cor. 5:17). Sin, (that which disobeys or goes against God and His word), separates us from God and His best (Psalm 66:18; Isaiah 59:2; Habakkuk 1:3; Gal. 3:10; James 2:10). Sin distracts us from God. Sin causes pain. Sin is offensive to God because it hurts those He loves. God loves us and calls us out of the darkness of sin and the junk of this world into His glorious light of truth (John 6:44; Acts 26:18; Eph. 2:1-9). When we listen to Him, forsake our sin, and ask Him to forgive us based on faith in Christ, He will forgive us, and give us spiritual life by the Holy Spirit who will indwell us (John 3; Rom. 6:23; 5:1; 8:1, 9-10; 10:9-10). Only through Jesus can we be freed from our patterns of consuming the things of this world that keep us from God’s best (John 8:31-32; 10:10).
When we receive Jesus as our Savior the Holy Spirit comes to reside within us. The Holy Spirit teaches us about the holy life God desires for us (1 Cor. 2:9-14). He teaches us that evil company corrupts good morals (1 Cor. 15:33). He teaches us the difference between the secular and the sacred. He helps us to make a covenant with God like Job did to not look lustfully on those around us (Job 31:1). The Holy Spirit teaches us, “Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). And the Holy Spirit’s desire for us is that, “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1 Thess. 5:23-24). The Holy Spirit teaches us and helps us make the right decisions about what we consume in life.
It does matter what you eat. Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bead alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mat. 4:4). It does matter what we watch. Jesus said, “. . . whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mat. 5:28). It does matter what you listen to. Jesus said, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Mat. 15:18-19). Jesus said, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Mat. 12:36-37). The God given holy loving standard for us is, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9). Does it matter what we consume? Yes! You are what you eat; what you take in, watch and listen to makes you who you are. What are you consuming? Is it God’s best? Don’t settle for anything less. It matters what you consume.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
The absence of spiritual devotion today is an omen and a portent. The modern church is all but contemptuous of the sober virtues-- meekness, modesty, humility, quietness, obedience, self effacement, patience. To be accepted now, religion must be in the popular mood. Consequently, much religious activity reeks with pride, display, self-assertion, self-promotion, love of gain and devotion to trivial pleasures.
It behooves us to take all this seriously. Time is running out for all of us. What is done must be done quickly. We have no right to lie idly by and let things take their course. A farmer who neglects his farm will soon lose it; a shepherd who fails to look after his flock will find the wolves looking after it for him. A misbegotten charity that allows the wolves to destroy the flock is not charity at all but indifference, rather, and should be known for what it is and dealt with accordingly.
It is time for Bible-believing Christians to begin to cultivate the sober graces and to live among men like sons of God and heirs of the ages. And this will take more than a bit of doing, for the whole world and a large part of the church is set to prevent it. But if God be for us, who can be against us? (We Travel an Appointed Way, 50-51.)
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Ever feel overwhelmed by life, like you’re drowning in a sea of problems? You don’t know what the future holds. You’ve lost hope. All you see is darkness. You got the bad report from the doctor. Your loved one is sick. It doesn’t look good. Or every move you make seems to be a dead end. You can’t pay the bills. You can’t find a job. Your marriage is hanging on by a thread. Your children are rebelling. Your parents are so not understanding you. You’ve been betrayed. There’s unrest and violence in the neighborhood. You’re addicted. You feel ashamed, guilty, or broken or all of that. You’re neck deep in deep waters. Life can be like dark foreboding deep waters. It’s hard to move. You try but you can’t. You fear drowning. You fear the sharks. They’re circling. What will you, what can you do? How do we deal with such times? How do we deal with the deep waters? Psalm 69 describes deep waters and how to deal with them. It’s a psalm closely connected to Jesus. If you’re going through deep waters or know someone who is, I encourage you to get your Bible, open to that psalm and study along with me.
Deep waters in life are like mire or quick sand (v.2). They are times where you cry so much and so hard that your throat dries up and your eyes fail (v. 3). They are times when people turn against you for no reason known to you, where people gang up on you, where they use intimidation tactics and even seek to destroy you (v. 4). These are times where you realize your limitations and are convicted by your own sins (v. 5). They are times when you feel ashamed and fear bringing shame to God because of your actions (v. 6-7). These are times of loneliness (v. 8) and indignation (v. 9). These are times when people mock you because of your faith (v. 10-12). Can you relate to any of that? If so you are not alone. Jesus can relate to all of it; “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted” (Heb. 2:18). Jesus knows about deep waters and He is able to help you.
How can we, how should we deal with the deep water times of life? We need to go to God in prayer. It states, “But as for me, my prayer is to You, O LORD, in the acceptable time; O God, in the multitude of Your mercy, hear me in the truth of Your salvation” (v. 13). John Bunyan in Pilgrim’s Progress wrote, “You can do more than pray after you’ve prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.” Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Prayer is your lifeline to God. Pray to God when going through deep waters. No superficial prayer will do. Wait on God in prayer until the “acceptable time,” until you make contact. He is always there, but we are often distant. Trust in the “multitude of” or abundant mercy of God. Go before Him prayerfully with your Bible open for “the truth” about your deep waters. Be open to His truth. You need to know the reality of your situation. God’s word has the truth you need (John 17:17). Pray for God’s deliverance and trust in the reliability of His lovingkindness, goodness and mercy (v. 14-16). Understand Jesus is there with you and knows exactly what you are going through. He went through deep waters too (v. 17-19). He will never leave you or forsake you (Heb. 13:5). His promise is that nothing can separate you from His love (Rom. 8:38-39). Draw near to Him. Seek His presence. He knows your brokenness because He was broken on the cross for you (v. 20; 1 Cor. 11:24).
Jesus knows the ruthlessness and mercilessness of people who attack the vulnerable. He went through that on the cross (v. 21; Mat. 27:34, 48). As you pray give your circumstances to God in full surrender. Rather than defend yourself, trust God to defend you (v. 22-28). He will direct you in what to say and what not to say (Mat. 10:19-20). Jesus was forsaken by all but trusted in the Father. You may be forsaken by all but you must trust in Him. Trust in Him to save you (v. 29).
Then you must worship Him. “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving” (v. 30). C.H. Spurgeon once said, "Any fool can sing in the day. It’s easier to sing when we read the notes by daylight. But the skillful singer is he who can sing when there is not a ray of light to read by. Songs in the night come only from God. They are not in the power of man.” Paul and Silas were pursued by demons, dragged through the streets, falsely accused, beaten and thrown in jail. They were going through deep waters. But in faith they prayed and worshipped the Lord in jail. God brought an earthquake that shook the prison doors open and set them free. And God then used them to save the jailer and his family to boot! (Acts 16). Victory!
God can get you through the deep waters with a song. By faith praise and worship God. You may not feel like worshipping God while treading the deep waters. But in faith, even with tears, worship Him. There is power in this. It will lift your spirit and bring life to your heart. It will testify to those around you. It is your offering to God in full surrender to Him. It is most pleasing to the Lord and He will hear the cry of His child (v. 31-33). God hears the song of the broken hearted. “A broken and contrite heart – these, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17).
In the end, even the “seas and everything that moves in them,” even the deep waters and all that is in them, will praise Him (v. 34). God can and will bring good from the deep water times of your life (Rom. 8:28). Puritan Thomas Watson once said, “A sickbed often teaches more than a sermon.” God can teach you and build you strong even through the deep waters of illness. God will save you, build you and you will be restored to continue on in this life or to move on to the next (v. 35). Our testimony should be “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).
Even your descendants will benefit from the story you’ll tell of how God got you through the deep waters of your life (v.36). Jesus will get you through and help you to deal with the deep water times of your life. In another psalm it states, “When my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2). That Rock is Jesus. “When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him” (Isaiah 59:19). In the power of the Spirit, be that standard. The Father says to you, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. . . . For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; . . .” (Isaiah 4:1-3). Jesus will help you deal with the deep waters.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Friday, September 3, 2010
In Part 1 and 2 of this study we noted Paul’s inspired words, “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor. 5:20). We have looked at good edifying fear and bad sinful fear. We have looked at the solution to bad fear as the total surrender to God in faith and the empowering of the Spirit to serve God in love. Now we will consider how we might get started. There are a few things we need to do to set the ground work for witnessing. Then we will look at a very simple way to share the gospel.
So you see your calling to be an ambassador for the Lord who shares the gospel. And you have fully surrendered to Him in faith and received the empowering of the Holy Spirit. Your love for the Lord has never been deeper or more powerful. What’s the next step? There are really three steps you need to take from this point on.
First, prayerfully prepare and equip yourself to share the gospel. Make sure you are filled with the Spirit. The empowering of the Spirit is something that needs to be maintained. The early disciples were refreshed in this empowering condition (Acts 4:31). Paul spoke of being continually filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18). So start by preparing yourself with daily prayerful surrender to the Lord and reliance upon His empowering. /span>
You need to know what the gospel is before you can share it. If you’re a Christian you know the gospel. It’s the same gospel by which you were saved. Study the word of God to see what the gospel is that saves (e.g. Rom. 10:9-10; 1 Cor. 15:1-4). Gospel means good news. Learn God’s revealed way of how to use the Law to bring conviction for sin so a sinner sees their need of a Savior (e.g. 1 Tim. 1:8-11). The Law is a tutor that leads people to Jesus (Gal. 3:24). It is the Spirit who does this work; you are merely His instrument; He will lead the way (John 16:8-11). Use the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20) and use them to question people to show them their sinfulness. Then ask them if they stood before God on judgment day would they be guilty or innocent. When they say guilty, ask them if that bothers them. When they say yes, tell them about the gracious saving work of Jesus who paid the debt of their sins on the cross. Many for the first time will understand why Jesus died on the cross and that He did it in love for them (Rom. 5:8; 6:23).
Now you may be thinking, but what if people ask me questions I can’t answer? This will happen. No one has all the answers all the time. There’s nothing wrong with telling them you don’t know the answer right now but would be happy to get back to them with one later. Getting back to them will demonstrate your sincere loving concern, your reliability, that God really does have answers to life’s questions and solutions to life’s problems. It will also provide an opportunity to build a relationship that will hopefully lead to salvation and discipleship. When I encountered this as a new Christian I made a commitment to never be stumped by the same question twice. In this questions I didn’t know the answer for became an incentive and directive for me as to how to study and prepare.
I want to recommend at this point a resource that is simply the best for equipping people to share the gospel. At www.thewayofthemaster.com Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron have set up a website with video demonstrations, teachings and resources to help you get equipped to share the gospel. Their book The School of Biblical Evangelism is a treasure trove of evangelistic helps that every Christian should have. Fear is often the product of ignorance. If you want to overcome your fear of evangelism, check out these materials and you’ll be well on your way to shining God’s gospel light into the dark scary unknowns and dispelling your fears.
Another great resource is the website of Mark Cahill at http://markcahill.org . Mark is a personal friend and he walks the talk. You will be hard pressed to find someone with a greater burden for the lost. He shares the gospel literally everywhere he goes. His book The One Thing You Can’t Do in Heaven is a classic. It is a great study tool to learn the ins and outs of witnessing. Another book he wrote, One Heartbeat Away is a book you can give to the unsaved. It addresses just about every question an unbeliever might ask and does so in a loving way.
Second, pray for opportunities to share the gospel. Once you’re empowered and prepared you need to pray for opportunities to share the gospel. When you start praying don’t be surprised if Jehovah’s Witnesses start coming to your door or people start asking you why you’re different or if opportunities just start popping up everywhere. Someone has said prayer is the long range artillery of the Lord. When you storm a beach an artillery barrage precedes your charge. Target people and pray specifically for them. Pray Acts 26:18 for people that God would, “open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” Start with prayer and then step out in faith.
Third, prayerfully share the gospel. Step out in faith and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. He will help you to be sensitive to who He wants you to share with and where He wants you to share with that person. If you’re still a bit skittish about sharing the gospel but determined to do it I would suggest you begin by sharing tracts. Don’t underestimate the power of a gospel tract. A tract is a small piece of paper or pamphlet that has the gospel contained in it. It may include the consideration of a certain question that is commonly asked. A tract is great because someone can receive it and keep it to study and contemplation. It’s a fantastic evangelistic tool.
Tracts can do a lot of the evangelistic work for us. Tracts can help you start a witnessing conversation. You can offer a tract to a stranger saying, “Did you get one of these?” In so doing you are offering them something for free and starting a friendly conversation.
Tracts can find their way into places we might not be able to. Tracts don’t get into arguments, they just state their case. And tracts have perfect timing; people read them when they’re ready to and therefore most receptive. You can leave tracts places for people to pick up later. Some good places to leave tracts are: in public phone books under “Abortion,” or “Escorts.” You can leave them amongst the food and packages of a super market. You can leave them in the pockets of clothes in clothing stores. You can leave them in bathrooms. You can leave them with a good tip when you go out to eat. You can leave them at the gas pump, in doctor’s offices, airports, airplanes, ATM machines, movie theatres, stadiums; you can leave them just about anywhere.
Charles Spurgeon said of tracts, they “are adapted to those persons who have but little power and little ability, but nevertheless, wish to do something for Christ. They may not have the tongue of the eloquent, but they have the hand of the diligent. They cannot stand to preach, but they can stand and distribute here and there these silent preachers . . . They may buy their thousand tracts, and these they can distribute broadcast.” 
Did you know that George Whitefield, one of the greatest evangelists that ever lived, was saved by reading a gospel tract? Did you know that Hudson Taylor was also saved with a gospel tract? God uses gospel tracts. Not all tracts are equal; some are better than others. I would refer you first to The Way of the Master and Mark Cahill’s websites for tracts first. Another good site for tracts is The American Tract Society at www.atstracts.org.
One last thing, if you choose to use tracts and are just leaving them places, make sure you pray for the Lord to use them.Also make sure you put some contact information on the tract so a person knows where to go for follow up. Pray over your tracts and ask God to show you where to leave them. Remember this is a spiritual war. Prayer is the long range artillery to soften the enemies’ strongholds before we storm the breaches.
Scared of witnessing? I hope and pray this short series has helped you overcome any fear of witnessing you might have had. Pray it all through. God is calling you and every Christian to share the gospel. He will provide the power and faith to help you overcome your fears of witnessing. Then prayerfully follow through and be used by the Lord. And get ready to rejoice as sinners are saved from their sin to the glory of God. Be His ambassador and let Him plead with the lost through you. God bless you.
 Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort, The School of Biblical Evangelism (Gainseville. Florida: Bridge Logos Pub. 2004) p. 198. See book for further discussion on tracts and evangelism. Excellent!