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Casting Pearls

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In this day and age it is hard to know what to say to people about Christianity. The Gospel message is simple enough but there is so much Bible hate and Christian brand hijacking going on that people are truly confused about God’s redemptive plan. In the easy affluence of western society people don’t think they need to be saved because everybody is doing all right! There is no shortage of false preaching pandering to the self-satisfied. Between the indifference and confusion lost people are not finding the way to Jesus and peace with God. How do you talk to people about Jesus today?

You have to know your audience. Many people don’t know anything about Christianity because they haven’t been raised in the church and neither have their parents. Among the unbelievers you have those that just don’t know or care and those that are hostile to any kind of religious talk especially ‘Bible’ talk. The former group can’t see the need for salvation because they don’t believe they need it. The latter group’s hostility blocks any dialogue because of their hate and prejudice towards anything having to do with Jesus and the Bible. Treat them with kindness and patience. They will be open to the Gospel if and when they get desperate. Actions speak louder than words. Don’t talk at them!

Both groups aren’t open to any talk about the Gospel. All you can do is be the best example of your faith as possible. Keep the peace among yourselves (fellow Christians) and do as Scripture tells us: “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:1,2) Those outside the church judge us by how we behave! Don’t judge them. Paul tells us: “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? . . . . God will judge those outside.” (1 Corinthians 5: 12, 13)

Because of the falling away of many and the tendency of the lukewarm to love the world more than the Word of God we have little unity in the church. There are those who preach and promote false gospels of cheap grace. There are those who preach and promote false gospels of works righteousness and many paths to God. And these imposters look just like real Christians. If they aren’t clergy share Scripture with them. They may just be ignorant dupes of false preachers. If so they will listen to His Words, not yours – stick with Scripture! But what if they are preachers?

Here is how you can tell a false preacher from the real deal. Ask them if they agree with Jesus when He says; “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Ask them if they agree with Peter when he says: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)

If they balk at agreeing on these points there is nothing you can say to them that will help them especially if they give you theological arguments. This only proves that they should know better. They aren’t interested in the truth anymore; “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.” (Hebrews 6:4,5,6) May God have mercy upon their souls.

These imposters do real damage to the church and to those outside the church who are looking for help. Their foolish lies steal away the true Gospel from those who need it. Their worldly religious placebos sicken those in need of real healing. They are allied with the anti-Christ and collaborate with him; “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12) Don’t listen to them. Don’t argue with them. Speak God’s Word from the Holy Bible against their lies.

The final group of people that I want to mention is the most important group because they will listen to His Word and grasp His lifeline. These people are desperate. You will find them in tough spots; in gutters, in hospitals, in jail, in all kinds of trouble. These are the people that Jesus came for. “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free . . . “ (Luke 4:18). Go find them. Share the Gospel with them with words and actions. They are the mission of His church!

Praise the Lord!

Let your light shine

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Luke 8:16  “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.”

     We are given His Word.  The Holy Spirit kindles a fire in us with the light of His Word.  We become a lamp.  That’s when the trouble starts.  In a dark world you can’t help but get noticed.  There are people who hate the light.  The Bible tells us this; “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19)

     You are faced with a choice; many times over, always and unrelenting.  Cover your light.  Hide it in a clay jar.  Or put it on a stand so others may see by it.  Your ‘friends’ and maybe even your family will tell you to ‘tone it down’.  They’ll say your becoming a ‘religious nut’.  They’ll use all your mistakes and flaws to try to discredit the light.  They’ll try to turn you off to stop the light.  Yet even a broken beat up candle can burn bright when it’s lit.  It’s not you they hate.  It’s Him; “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.”  (John 15:18)

     Take your light.  Put it on a stand.  And what kind of a stand?  A stand based on doing what His Word tells you to do!  The work of the Word is to do His Will in our lives so that others may see His transforming power.  “[W]e should desire to hold forth the word of life, and to shine, giving light to all around. Great encouragement is given to those who prove themselves faithful hearers of the word, by being doers of the work.”  (Matthew Henry)  The Bible tells us plainly; “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”  (James 1:21,22)    

     Be aware, the world doesn’t mind good deeds as long as they glorify any other god(s) but God.  The stand that you must put His light on has to bear His name!  The Sanhedrins of this world will always try to suppress His name; ” ‘What are we going to do with these men?’ they asked. ‘Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign,<sup class="crossreference" value="(T)”> and we cannot deny it. But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.’ ”  (Acts 4:16,17)    

     Peter and John ran up against the world’s absolute hate of His name.  And their reply; “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to Him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”  (Acts 4:19,20)  Peter put it to the Pharisees; “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”  (Acts 4:12)

     Jesus said; “You are the light of the world.<sup class="crossreference" value="(R)”> A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.<sup class="crossreference" value="(S)”> In the same way, let your light shine before others,<sup class="crossreference" value="(T)”> that they may see your good deeds<sup class="crossreference" value="(U)”> and glorify<sup class="crossreference" value="(V)”> your Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:14,15,16)

     Praise the Lord!

Podcast – Follow Me part 4

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Matthew 16:24,25 “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”

     To follow Jesus requires taking up our cross.  Surely to die on it.  And just as surely you will be raised up.  “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (Romans 8:11)

Following Jesus part 4

This podcast (Following Jesus part 4) speaks to the challenges of following in His steps.

     The work of the cross kills our self-righteousness and our love of this world’s treasure. The cross brings to death our concern for the world’s wisdom and our own reputations.  What God raises up in us is new life in the Spirit; “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”  (Romans 8:17)

Podcast – Follow Me part 3

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Matthew 10:34,35 “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law”

A father has to face a terrible choice between what he believes to be right and his own son. Who will you choose? Jesus or easy compromise? Love for Jesus leads to life only if we choose Him over all else! 



Following Jesus part 3

This podcast (Following Jesus part 3) speaks to the challenges of following in His steps.

Time and walking in faith reveals that Jesus restores what was thought to be lost.  A  hard choice is revealed to be the only choice that leads to life and life in abundance!

Podcast – Follow Me part 2

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Matthew 8:20 “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head”

     Following Jesus comes with a cost; Jesus first, me second. His way must take priority over our own ways. The world will always try to reverse that. When following Jesus we will come up against giants in our lives that only Jesus can help us overcome. Failure, fear of failure, not being good enough and being too good – self righteousness always rise up to stop or hinder us when we walk in His way.

Following Jesus part 2

       This podcast (Following Jesus part 2) speaks to the challenges of following in His steps.

Podcast – Follow Me part 1

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  Matthew 4: 19 “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  

    There are six ‘follow me’ verses in Matthew – in this brief message the first (Matthew 4: 18 – 22) will be discussed.  When Jesus calls how do we respond?  Do we listen?  Do we act?  Or do we go for the safety of empty religion?
Follow Me part 1
     This short podcast:  Follow Me part 1  – speaks to these issues . . .
     When you answer His call your life changes around.  Priorities shift and concern for self recedes.  His ministry takes us to hurt and suffering people.  People who are in need of love, patience, and support.  Through His ministry we begin to accept a kinship with those in need – our needs and frailties become apparent to us.  It’s hard to be self-righteous when you are looking into His mirror.  It’s hard to be self-righeous when you struggle to follow Jesus every day.

Judging will kill you!

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Luke 6:37,38 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged.<sup class="crossreference" value="(AT)”> Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.<sup class="crossreference" value="(AU)”> Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.<sup class="crossreference" value="(AV)”> For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

      How easy it is to judge? And easier still for condemnation to follow. Such an unholy progression is born into us and always at hand.   Judgement and condemnation, said or unsaid, the look as bad as the word has ruined many a person on the receiving end of it.  The damage is done with our prideful look ; “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, . . .”   (Proverbs 6:16,17) The damage is done with our tongue.  “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21)  Yes there are consequences!

     When we judge harshly we will be judged harshly.  This is a spiritual outworking of the law of sowing and reaping;  “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”  (Galatians 6:7)  Judging and condemnation is by its very nature a thing of the flesh.  It is so tempting – I am so tempted – when someone falls to judge them inadequate and denigrate them which is the easiest form of condemnation as it relies on flabby pride.  The Bible tells us differently; “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit<sup class="crossreference" value="(A)”> should restore<sup class="crossreference" value="(B)”> that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”  (Galatians 6: 1)

     Jesus’ treatment of the woman caught in adultery is the pattern of holiness when it comes to dealing with each other’s frailties; “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7)  Jesus did not compromise with respect to her sin and Jesus did not condemn her; ” . . . neither do I condemn you, . . . . Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11)  He shows us that it is possible to be merciful and not compromise.  For us the way to such pure mercy is to see ourselves for what we are – sinners in need of mercy.

     Drug addicts who are struggling in recovery often speak of working their own program and not judging the difficulties others have.  God gave us Scripture to help us all ‘work our own program’;  “If anyone thinks they are something<sup class="crossreference" value="(D)”> when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone,<sup class="crossreference" value="(F)”> without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.”  (Galatians 6:3,4,5)  If you aren’t addicted to anything, maybe you’re like me  and tend to think that you’re pretty good.  This scripture can help us!

    Judging others is very bad for our spiritual health.  Paul clearly tells us; “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgement on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgement do the same things.”  If we judge, we condemn. If we condemn we ourselves pay the price we demand of others.  If we judge and condemn we commit injustice; “If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.”  (Matthew 12:7)

     Eating humble pie is the best antidote for the hypocrisy of judging and condemning; “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5)  We can learn to become more forgiving by taking a good hard look at ourselves; by doing what alcoholics call our step four – a moral inventory.  Jesus tells us plainly; “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14,15)

     I would not want to live my life without having God’s forgiveness.  Would you?

    Praise the Lord!

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