Just as it only takes a little bit of yeast to make the whole batch self-rising, it only takes a little untruth to make the whole message a lie. God does not need our help to make His glorious Good News any better. He doesn’t need us to stretch the truth to make His miracles any bigger and we don’t need to add anything to His plan of salvation to make it effective. We must be very careful in witnessing to others that we do not add to or subtract from what God has said. We must be confident in what we believe and share it with the love of Jesus Christ. Anything more or less than what Jesus said takes away everything that He did for us at the cross. We must saturate our efforts with prayer and the love of Jesus Christ. But, just as Paul was adamant about rebuking those that sowed confusion to the new converts, we must be courageous in sharing the Gospel. There are lines we do not cross and there is a stance from which we do not back down. Share the Gospel with love, pure and simple, with no apologies.
32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.–Matt. 10:32-33 (NIV)
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
1 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? — James 2:1-4 NIV
If you google “verses concerning first impressions in the Bible”, you will only find verses that warn against using first impressions as a guide for measuring a person’s worth. Yet, society teaches us that first impressions are all important and determine whether we will be accepted or rejected. And certainly, that is the worldly view. How many of us use the way another person dresses, our opinion of whether they are beautiful or handsome, their popularity, talent or success as our criteria for selecting friends? If this is really our criteria, then perhaps we should change the name of our church to “The Church of The Beautiful, Handsome,Talented, Successful and Well-Dressed”. But, wait a minute, if we did that, we would have to be very egotistical and self-centered to think that we are qualified to attend and we all know that Christians are not egotistical and/or self-centered. I, for one, am ecstatic that Jesus doesn’t use that criteria to determine who can be saved. If you spend any time talking to those outside the church about why they don’t go to church, one of the reasons you will hear quite often is that “church people” make me feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. We can change our dress codes for churches (most churches have) but that will not solve the problem. Hurting people come to church to find relief and in most cases, they have come to the point in their life, that how we dress is not what attracts or deters them. It is how we make them feel that is important. Most people come to church for one of two reasons; we were either raised to go to church or we came to the end of our rope and we haven’t found satisfactory answers to our problems anywhere else. We need to welcome guests and strangers in our church with the love, warmth and enthusiasm we would show a long lost brother or sister who has decided to come home. Why? Because that is exactly how Jesus sees them and what they could become to us if we greet them and accept them as we should.
28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.–Acts 17:28,29 (NKJV)
One of Webster’s definitions for “being” is: the most important or basic part of a person’s mind or self. “Be” is defined as: to have identity with (someone). Example: She is my sister. God is concerned about our “being”. He even identifies Himself as “I AM” which could be defined to mean “I used to ‘be’, I ‘be’ now, and I ‘be’ in the future”. But with God, it is always “now”, so “I AM” encompasses it all. Verse 29 gives us a clue as to what we ought not to think or believe. If we put that into practical application, it could mean “we are not our work and our work (our “doing”) will not shape us into what God wants us to “be”. We can not achieve Divine Nature by “doing”. We can only achieve Divine Nature by “being”. We can only be identified with Jesus if we allow Him (His Spirit) to abide (“be”) in us and if we abide (“be”) in Him. It is definitely true then, that we have no life or being outside of Jesus Christ.
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.–Galatians 5:22-26 (NLT)
If we are obedient to the leading of God’s Spirit in our lives, people will know that we are different from the world. They should be able to see that our focus and our desires are not on pleasing ourselves, but on pleasing God. If they can see that in our daily lifestyle, then they will be attracted to Christ because they, too, are looking for love, joy, and peace. If our lifestyles are not producing these fruits, then perhaps, we need to spend more time with the Keeper of the vineyard. He alone can produce this kind of fruit. But He won’t force us to produce it, even though He could. We must be willing to allow Him to work in us pruning the dead limbs and giving new life to the rest. Pruning is not pleasant to the plant, yet, it is necessary for growth. I once owned an arbor of Golden Muscadines. Each year, the vines produced smaller and less fruit. I pruned the vines back to about 18 inches high and fertilized them. It took 2 years but when the vines came back, they were full of life and produced much larger fruit. The fruit was so abundant that I gave muscadines to the whole neighborhood. The fruit was also much sweeter. Allow God’s Holy Spirit to do the work inside you and you will love the end result.
Isaiah 50: 10, 11 (NLT) 10 Who among you fears the Lord and obeys his servant?
If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light,
trust in the Lord and rely on your God.
11 But watch out, you who live in your own light and warm yourselves by your own fires.
This is the reward you will receive from me: You will soon fall down in great torment.
If you have ever tried self-help programs, you know how frustrating that can be. You know when we say things like “I am going to do better”, “I am going to lose weight”, “I am going to quit smoking”, “I am going to quit watching pornography”, “I am going to become a better person”, “I am, I am……” And we try, we try really hard. And we try again, but those desires are still there.
As we are told in James 3:2 (NLT) 2. Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. BUT WE CAN’T
Our fleshly desires always win out until we admit that we can’t and only God can do it for us. The problem is the heart and only God can change that. Jesus came to set the captive free, ask Him and He will do that for you right now.