Category Archives: Witness

We have power in Christ

John 1:12 But to all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave power to become children of God.

One problem we face in the Church today is that many Christians don’t really believe that God can do what He says He can do. We believe what we read in the Bible, but in practice, we don’t trust God to come through on His promises. This fear that God won’t fulfill his promises is a lack of faith in the power of God. On one hand, we believe that God can do all things, and on the other hand when we see situations that look impossible to conquer, we don’t believe He can handle all things.

Beyond that, we don’t believe that we have any power or authority. The Bible says that to all who received Christ, He gave power to become children of God. If Christ gave us power, then we can do all things. Paul said to the Philippians that we could do all things through Christ who gives us strength. If we are truly children of God, then we are not impotent, but very powerful. We have the Creator of all things working through us.

Don’t be afraid to act when God calls you to do something. He won’t ask you to do something that He hasn’t given you the power to do. If you are called to do it, the Lord will equip you for it. He doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.

Work hard

Colossians 3:23 Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men.

Philippians 2:14 Do all things without grunting or questioning.

One way we can stand out as disciples of Christ in the world we live in is to serve with joy. It’s not a good witness to the Lord for the Christian in the workplace (you may be the only one) to be the whiner or complainer. We shouldn’t be the one who everyone sees as negative.  We’ve received a joy that comes from the Lord and we ought to let it show.

When we’re capable of finding joy in the mundane or good in the seemingly bad, people wonder how that’s possible. This gives us a great opportunity to point them to Jesus, our source of peace. If we work hard at all tasks given to us, we bring glory to God. He has not put us on this earth to be lazy or to complain.

Work hard, don’t complain, serve others. Be a joy to others so that they will want to know your Master.

Ministers of a new covenant

2 Corinthians 3:6  who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Trying to keep up with every rule and restriction can be tiresome and in the end doesn’t bring about perfection anyway.  We’re unable to keep the whole law and that’s why we have it.  The law shows us that we are imperfect and in need of a savior.  In Christ we have that Savior and a new covenant, one not dependent on rule-keeping, but on grace.

Trying to reconcile with God based on following the rules and doing good will still result in death.  We cant’ reach God in this way.  Only through the grace of Christ do we have a chance at a right relationship with God.  Now He’s made us ministers of that new covenant.  He’s shown us grace and now we’re to show grace on His behalf.

The Holy Spirit works in us to show the life-giving grace of God to others through our lives.  Because we’ve been forgiven, we are empowered to forgive.  Because we’ve been shown love, we are able to show love.  Only with the help of the Holy Spirit are we competent to minister to others in this way.

Letters from Jesus

2 Corinthians 3:3  And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

We may not always realize the impact our lives have on those of others, but it’s a significant matter.  Our experiences with other people can change the way they think or feel about any number of subjects, including God.  How we represent Christ can make a difference in the way others see Him.

Jesus was sent to this earth as a self-revelation from God.  In Him we see all of the attributes of God in human flesh.  He walked the earth and those who lived during that time saw God for what He is.  Now, Jesus ascended back to sit at the right hand of the Father in heaven, so who is left to represent God?

The Holy Spirit was sent to do God’s work in and through us as Christ followers.  Now, we are God’s letters written to human hearts.  We are what people look on and see God’s character (although not perfectly as in the person of Christ).  The Holy Spirit connects our hearts with those of others, helping us bear witness to the work of Jesus and His saving grace.  At times it may not even be something we say or do that draws another to Christ.  It may seem unexplainable how they came to know the Lord through us, but that’s all the more proof that it’s Him doing the work.

What is a disciple?

A disciple

John 8:31-32  So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Ask 20 pastors what a disciple is and you’ll get 19 different answers.  If church leaders can’t even decide on what the word means, how can we hope to define it?  As with most biblical truths, we must start with the Bible.  What does it say about a disciple?

It all starts with the Word.  Jesus said to His followers that those who abide in His Word are truly His disciples.  But to be clear, that doesn’t just mean that reading the Bible a lot makes you a disciple.  Nor does it mean that learning a lot about the Bible makes you a disciple.  Abiding in God’s Word means living it.  Each and every move you make in life is grounded in the truth of the Word.  You live according to it.

A disciple is a fully surrendered follower of Jesus Christ who studies the Word, regards it as authority, prays like Jesus, is devoted to fellowship, is spirit filled, serves God, serves others, is a good steward, grows, shares, ministers, and loves.  A disciple should be obvious to anyone, no matter what their beliefs, but a disciple is set apart from the world.

Walking as Christians

Ephesians 4:1-6 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge IS4086RF-00002343-001you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,  eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—  one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Have you ever heard a statement like this? – “Jesus and the ideas he talked about sound great, I’m just not so sure about all these Christians.” Ours is a world desperately seeking Truth. Take any social context or issue (marriage, family, crime rates, teenagers being prescribed drugs so they can feel “normal”) and the broken human condition is clear. Any honest search for Truth can only lead to the reality of Jesus, but those who search are often confused by their experience with Christians.

My purpose is not to lay guilt on anyone, but to illustrate the depth of our position, and the purpose of Paul’s writing in Ephesians. He starts by saying, “therefore,” a reference to his earlier point, namely, that Gentiles are equal heirs in the promise of Christ. From this radical statement that surely shocked his audience, Paul then says in 4:1 that the Church is supposed to be a picture of this all-encompassing love.

We are to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling” and act with “all humility and gentleness.” When people enter our sphere as co-workers, friends, or neighbors, this is the picture we ought to project. And it’s not a matter of performance, either. Down to the deepest fiber of our being, we need to understand that Jesus chose his Church to represent Him. There is no plan B. Furthermore, the picture we are painting with our lives is one that the world longs to see!

This is not a spectator sport, ladies and gentlemen. Be “diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit” is no light statement. With diligence, we much each master our impulses , tempers, and die to our Selves a thousand times in order that when others see us interact in congregations, in our homes, and in our different social circles, the cumulative thing they take away is Jesus. And it will require everything we have to give.

———-  After paying close attention to what Paul is calling us to do as Christians, is there anything you need to change about the way you present yourself in front of others as you represent Christ?

 

*This devotion by Jeremy Bunge first appeared in January of 2011

Protected from evil

Psalm 91:9-10  Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge— no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.

God’s people can be assured that our Lord will provide us with protection from evil.  There is literally no reason to be fearful if you belong to God in Christ Jesus.  Nothing in this world, or in any world, can stand against Him (Romans 8:37-39). No evil can come near us if we’re under His protection.

The Lord will provide His angels to guard us (Psalm 91:11), at His discretion.  Nothing can befall us with His knowledge.  No plague, no tribulation, no struggle gets by Him without His knowledge.

Our God is mighty and able to protect us from all things.  He is our strength and our shield.  It’s no wonder the words “Fear not” appear so many times in His Word.  If we make Him our dwelling place, we’re safe in His shadow.

———-  What are you afraid of?

Only He satisfies

Psalm 90:14  Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Where do you find pleasure?  There are so many places in this world to look for fulfillment, but only one satisfies.  The things of this world are vain, fleeting, finite, and altogether incapable of filling the void in our lives.  They are limited and we’re just left wanting more, which leads us to continually search for that “one thing”.

The Psalmist knew the key to true joy that satisfies.  The Lord’s love endures forever, it doesn’t fade, it doesn’t rust or wear out, it won’t leave us.  We can be glad all our days if the place we look for fulfillment is in the Lord.  In fact, this joy does not have to be sought.  It’s a byproduct of seeking God first in our lives (Matthew 6:33).

When we prioritize God first, He adds to us blessings beyond what we can imagine (Ephesians 3:20) and the things this world has to offer seem like nothing in comparison.

———-  Where are you seeking pleasure?

Your body is a temple

F1ONRF-00003778-0011 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

You and I have work to do. We’ve each been given a calling to fulfill, a mission to accomplish, and that requires our physical bodies. It’s our job, then, to maintain the vessel God will use.

One of my only hobbies is running obstacle course races. They range from about 3 miles to somewhere near 12 miles and there are any number of various obstacles to tackle along the way. Sometimes a course is fairly easy, other times I come home barely able to walk for two days. People always ask me why I put myself through that. My answer is twofold.

First, having a physical goal ahead of me motivates me to stay in shape, to get ready for the event. That’s about the only thing that gets me exercising sometimes. Secondly, I like to sign up for these challenges because they’re uncomfortable and outside the norm. I want to push myself physically to do things that I’m not sure I can actually do. I end up praying a whole lot while I’m running the course because I need all the help I can get. It reminds me that I’m dependent on my Creator to do anything. I believe that brings Him glory.

Now, let me wrap all this physical stuff in with the spiritual aspect we’ve talked about. I have a calling to love God more than anything else, giving my body as a living sacrifice. In order to carry out His purpose for me, which includes loving other people, serving them, and all other sorts of things that require a physical body, I’ve got to keep my body operational to the best of my ability.

My body is not my own. Your body is not your own. We’ve been bought with a price and now we’re to bring the Lord glory through our bodies. We can’t neglect the physical in exchange for the spiritual. They need each other.

How are you taking care of your temple? What do you need to do to improve?

Pass on the Good News

IS4086RF-00042411-0012 Timothy 2:2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

 

 

 

 

Giving is good for spiritual health. We’ve discussed how not withholding finances and possessions can be a great exercise, but there’s more to be shared than just the tangible things of this life. We have something even greater and it just begs to be shared with others.

The gospel of Jesus Christ, that is, the good news that He lived a perfect life that we could never live, without sin, and paid the ultimate price by dying on a cross to pay for our sins, and that He rose again from the dead and now advocates for us even now on His throne, is not some mysterious secret to be kept. It’s the best story ever to be told and it must be told to all who will hear.

If we’re paying attention and really have our eyes open, we’ll see that there are potential opportunities to share this news all over. Withholding the gospel and keeping it for ourselves is not good for us spiritually. It makes us inwardly focused, which is not the purpose God intended for the gospel. It’s meant to be told, again and again and again.

If you’re flatlining spiritually and aren’t sure what’s wrong, take a self assessment and diagnose whether you’re sharing the Good News with others or keeping it bottled up within. If the answer is the latter, make it a point to ask God for a person to share His story with.