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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

Category

Evangelism

Seek the Lost

Acts 1:8

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.


Okay, first things first. The sign says…those who have been found. That may not be the most theologically sound sentence ever written, but that is not the point here. We could rephrase; people saved by the Grace of God have a duty, and a command, to take the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world.

One thing I did like much about that sign is that word…seek. It didn’t say hang around with a halo on and wait for people to come to see; it said..seek. I liked that as seeking is a very active verb. In fact, in order to seek one has to….well, seek. So this post is just my rather random thoughts on just what it means to seek the lost.

I can’t even begin to count the times I have heard people say something to the effect of, “I will just let my life be a testimony and people will come to Jesus through that.” Sorry to break it to everyone, but no…they won’t.

Do we have a responsibility to present a positive Christian witness to the world? Of course, we do; Scripture clearly tells us this.

Matthew 5:13-16 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

So, yes we absolutely should present ourselves to the world in such a way as to bring glory and honor to Jesus Christ; however, we also have to connect the dots for people. In other words they not only need to see our light shine before the world, but they need to understand what the source of that light is in the first place. What good does it do if we do all the right things, but nobody ever knows what the force behind the good things is? What if everybody in the world just thinks we are really great people? Certainly, no one comes to Jesus by thinking we are just awesome men and women.

If we are to seek the lost, we have to be identifiable. That is, people have to actually know that we are Christians. That may sound absurd, but I can promise you that it is not absurd in any way. I have been known to do a small exercise sometimes in classes I have taught; I have even done this at home. It involves simply asking students to write down the top three ways in which people in their circle of acquaintances would describe the person if asked. The responses are very telling. We often get the standard type answers: smart, hardworking, friendly, and so forth. What is often missing is is terms such as Christian, loves God, religious, or “goes to church” even.

This goes back to the previous section concerning Christians being the light of the world. What good is a candle if we hide it under a bushel basket? What good is salt if it is not used? The answer to both of those questions, of course, is no good at all. In this case, the solution is as easy as simply telling people what we believe. Of course, if we are not the light of the world, or are unpleasant, nasty people we might want to skip this step until we get our selves right. The real point is, that the fact that we are believers in Jesus Christ should be on every Christian’s top three list of how people would describe them.

If we are to seek the lost, we have to be willing. God has called each and every one of us to take the Gospel message to a lost and dying world; this instruction is not just for Pastors, Deacons, or some “visitation committee.” It is for every single one of us. We aren’t all called to preach on a street corner, knock on a door, or even hand out a simple Gospel Tract; however, we all called to do something. If God calls us, are we willing? The stories of the calls of two of the greatest prophets are great examples of men answering the call from God to tell the Gospel, and they are applicable to all of us.

We can see in Jeremiah Chapter One that when God called Jeremiah his answer was similar to that many of us give. His initial response was to reply that he simply was not ready for such a service. Note, that God told Jeremiah several things. It was His plan, to not be afraid, and that He would equip Jeremiah as needed for this service.  Read Jeremiah 1:4-10

Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.

Isaiah, on the other hand, never even blinked. His response is of the best examples in The Bible of a complete and total willingness to simply go. Read Isaiah 6:8.

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

Here am I, send me. That pretty much says it all and should be any Christian’s response when called. Notice, “when” called, not “if” called. Our calling and commission to tell the Gospel is not a question of “if,” but is a guarantee of, “when.”

If we are to seek the lost, we have to be ready. Readiness to share the Gospel covers a wide range of abilities and a wide range of knowledge. So, to begin, let’s take a look at the most basic level of readiness that we are all capable of. First of all, if we are to be witnesses, what does it mean to be a witness? In a court of law, a witness is somebody who simply tells what happened to them; a witness is somebody who simply relates what they saw, and what they know.

People are saved every day who have basically no knowledge of God’s Word; being any type of scholar is not necessary in order to come to salvation. So, then, what does that person have to say to another who might be curious? What does that person have to say to the world? What they have to say to the world is simply what happened to them! Any truly saved sinner understands the basics of the Gospel message, or they would not have come to salvation. Often, when teaching younger people, we use the ABCs of salvation as a teaching tool. They are basic, easy, and provide all that is needed to share the Gospel at a basic level.

A – Admit you are a sinner in need of salvation.

B – Believe that Jesus paid the penalty for your sin and that He died on the cross and rose from the dead in three days.

C – Confess your sin to God. Confess Jesus as your Savior and Lord

 That’s very simple, and not deep theology; however, it is a message that any person can tell.

But, does God expect us to deliver only that simple message for our entire lives? Or course not; God expects us to grow and learn in our Christian faith and in the knowledge of Him and His Word. As we re-enter the world after our conversion, if our life reflects our new birth, people will wonder what has happened to us.

The Bible is instructive on God’s desire for how we should approach this; if we live our lives in a way which honors God, people will want to know what happened. Here is God’s instruction in this matter.

1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

How do we prepare ourselves for this challenge? God’s Word offers an answer to that question as well.

2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

1 Thessalonians 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

So, then, being ready is part of seeking the lost

Finally, if we are to seek the lost, we have to be purposeful. This may very well be the toughest challenge of all. Finding lost people to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with does not happen by accident. Of course, occasionally people might stumble upon us and ask a few questions, but that is going to be rare overall.

The reasons for this are fairly simple. With some rare examples, people who are lost are not actively seeking God. Most of us are, in fact running from God just as fast as we can while in our lost states. Since that seems to be the case, it is also the case that if they are running that we must chase them, so to speak. I don’t mean we have to pursue people and beat them with our Bibles, although that might work in some instances. What I mean is, we have to take the message to them, not wait for them to come to us. They aren’t coming to us. So, here are my random thoughts about how to be purposeful in our outreach to a lost and dying world.

Are we even telling our families about Jesus Christ? I remember once witnessing to a fellow who was about 45 years old, and had a very rough history; he had actually been imprisoned for a while for drug trafficking. Now, he was actually in church because his mother and many aunts and uncles were faithful believers. Along the way, I had the chance to tell him about salvation through Jesus Christ, and he seemed rather shocked. He looked at me and said, “Nobody ever told me that!” Sadly, this fellow is still struggling with faith, but getting closer. What if he had heard that message when he was six years old instead of 45?

Do we tell our neighbors about Jesus Christ? If our neighbors don’t even know we are believers in Jesus Christ, something is seriously wrong here. Make friends with them; invite them to church; actually share the Gospel and the plan of salvation with them. They may possibly think you are slightly odd, but we know that will happen, correct? Remember Matthew 10:22, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake

What about co-workers? This one can be tough. The truth is, people can get fired for expressing their beliefs in ways considered inappropriate in the workplace. Getting fired is not the objective; nobody needs to be a workplace martyr for the faith(maybe.) What, then, is the solution? Really, it’s quite easy. Be a model employee.

1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Ephesians 6:5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;

Are we part of the problem or part of the solution? As Christians in the workplace, we should always be part of the solution. We all know our workplaces are filled with bad bosses, favoritism, gossip, unfairness and many other things. As Christians, we should never be part of all of that. If we have chosen to accept and keep a particular job, then the Bible is quite clear how we are to conduct ourselves at it.

It’s actually fairly easy to share your beliefs in the workplace. I don’t mean proselytizing, I simply mean sharing who you are and what you believe as statements of fact. In the difficult times at work, when everything is descending into chaos, if we have managed to rise above it that presents a golden opportunity to explain to people just why we are able to do that. On the other hand, if we are bad or below average employees, people might see our faith as the reason for that; then we are just another example of the Bible-thumping Christian who talks the talk but does not walk the walk.

Do we pray daily for opportunities and ways to share the Gospel? I remember I used to come home periodically and find a copy of the Watchtower Society Magazine laying on my porch. I also remember being somewhat disappointed that I had missed the visit. Because my plan was when they asked me if they could talk to me about Jesus to say…”You betcha, come on in!” I actually started including in my prayers that one day I would be home when the traveling in pairs missionaries came by. They never did catch me at home, but a couple of them wandered by a job site one day as I was working. We had a rather “nice” conversation. That was an answered prayer.

Now, of course, God knows His plan and He knows our hearts. But, it is nonetheless a sign to God of our willingness to engage the lost if we ask Him to send us lost souls. God also knows who is out there honestly responding to the light He has provided and seeking answers. We might just be the response God has in mind for that person.

Do we seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit for each individual situation? Not every situation is the same, and not every response should be the same either. Again, I will use personal experience as an illustration. In my work, I spend all of my time in customer’s homes working for them. We are quite forbidden from discussing religion with customers, no exceptions. I clearly remember to this day an encounter I had with a gentleman in his home. It came to light as I worked that the fellow had cancer, and was not sure of his outlook. It seemed obvious that there was a golden opportunity to share Jesus. Just as obviously, I balked at the idea, as getting fired is not high on my to do list for most days. As I went about my normal business, I could not escape the burden of feeling I should talk to him.God and I had quite the tussle, to tell the truth. But I came away with the clear understanding that The Holy Spirit wanted me to talk to this man, and that God would keep me safe. As it turns out, the man was quite saved and heaven bound already.

The Holy Spirit will empower our words. The truth is, we sometimes simply don’t know what to say in a given situation. Note God’s response to the Prophet Jeremiah when he questioned God about his inability to speak?

Jeremiah 1:8,9 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.

If we honestly seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we need never fear that we will not say the right thing. If we say what God wants us to say, then it is always the right thing.

In summary, the key word for this entire post is, “seek.” We are to seek the lost. We are not commanded to sit back and wait for lost people to wander by so that we might speak to them. We are to go out, into the world, and share the gospel. We may not all go to Mongolia to be a missionary, but we are all missionaries to our own part of the world.

Additionally, this command is not just for pastors, evangelists or church officers. I simply can’t find anywhere in God’s Word where any of us are off the hook for the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

Who are you going to seek today?

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Great Post, Follow Me Too!

How many of us get a comment like that on our blogs? Some blogger who we have never seen pops by, says nothing much really, but only this: 

Nice Blog! Follow me too! 

That’s irritating, right? In fact, I am pretty sure I read somewhere that this violates the “rules” of blogging etiquette. Obviously, that is a person simply fishing for followers. Rude, I say! In fact, I want to report those guys to the Emily Post blogging etiquette helpline.

But, wait, there’s more!

What do we do most times with those guys? For the most part, we probably ignore them, as if they never spoke. We might even give them short, “thanks,” THEN ignore them. On a bad day, we might even point out their rudeness. After all, pointing out rudeness by being rude is the national sport these days.

We all want readers, likes and follows. Admit it, you do too! Especially Christian bloggers, because we all know that success in the Kingdom of God is measured by butts in the pews so to speak; obviously we don’t get butts in pews on WordPress, but followers and likes are the next best thing.

Friends, allow me to tell you what I do with those guys. I follow them, each and every one. I don’t care if you write about underwater basket weaving. I don’t care if you write really lame poetry(and oh so many do.) I don’t even care if you write about the joys of smoking weed. I. Just. Don’t. Care. Come by, say hi, follow me…and most likely I will do the same in return. Then, I will probably read your lame poetry and even your latest experience in mind-altering drugs. I might even say a word or two. Of course, I don’t have much to offer on your blog about underwater basket weaving, but I can at least say howdy every now and then.

Huh? You say? Why on earth would you read such junk?” 

Let me ask you this if you have a church you call home. If a stranger wanders in the door and says, “Hey nice place,” what do we do? I hope we don’t jump right into how jacked up their lives are, and offer them a church covenant and direct deposit offering form to fill out. No, I sure hope not. I hope we might bring them in, offer them our seat and extend a hand of fellowship. I hope we might even check in with them later, and see how they are doing. Maybe offer a kind word, even when they are doing stuff like smoking weed. I hope we won’t rail against their shortcomings, and I hope we won’t tell them their poetry sucks.

Friends, I love you all, and the fellowship with other Christian bloggers is sweet for sure. We are commanded to extend the hand of fellowship to the brethren, and to support and edify one another. Yet, there is something else we are called to do.

Matthew 28:18-20  And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Another thing to remember:

Mark 2:17  When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Friends, let’s get out there and do some reading on underwater basket weaving!

OK, Now Everybody Go! Some Reader Thoughts.

witnesses-for-jesus

Monday, we talked about the seemingly sudden shift from Jesus telling people not to spread the word about His activities(for the most part, there were exceptions), to telling his disciples to tell everybody. We looked at two questions:

What changed? Why did He suddenly want them to tell the world?

Who was the instruction to “go,” even given to? Was it for just the disciples then, or everybody now?

I came to the conclusion that the command to “go” was a universal command, and it still applicable to all believers even today. That seems to be a consensus among readers, as universally the response was agreement with the premise of the post. There were also some great additions made in the comments. As I like to do sometimes, today’s post will let some of those comments see public light, so to speak.

There were good comments by good bloggers. Each comment also has a link to the particular bloggers last post. Go read; there is some good Christian writing going on out there. Blessings and enjoy.

Desiray at The Devotion Cafe started things off with this:

When He gave the great commission He was talking to His Disciples in and us who follow Him.

Here was a stirring personal testimony from Bruce at Godsmanforever:

Wally, I only shared the Gospel twice in the first 7 years and 2 days after God graced me with salvation… I had somehow taken back control from the Holy Spirit until 6/04/2009… I am living proof that it is the power of the Holy Spirit motivating the heart of the Christian who allows Him total control of their lives…that will give the Christian not only the confidence to share their own testimony and the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ… But He will give us the opportunity and the right words to speak when we pray for opportunities to share our faith…

Don at My Heart Is for Israel had some great additional reading and study for us:

I know for sure that I am NOT an evangelist because I have not received that gift from the Holy Spirit. However, I can sure witness to what Yeshua has done in my life as did the man born blind in John 9. That’s a tremendous passage on how to witness by the way.

James at the Isaiah 53:5 Project addressed some reasons why we don’t witness, even though we are told to:

I think the command is for all of us but many don’t go out of fear. We live in a time when witnessing is not always easy to do so people pass.

Evangelism is not everyone’s gift either so a few pass because of that.

Nothing but enthusiasm here from John at Not For Punks:

Here I am Lord, send me!!

A great teaching as always from Patrick at Serving Grace Ministries:

Well…as written above He gave some to be Apostle, prophets, evangelist, pastors and teachers FOR THE EQUIPPING OF THE SAINTS FOR THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY and the edifying of the Body of Christ! (Ephesians 4:12). Last I checked, telling the world about Jesus was a work of the ministry. If you look at it according to verse 12, it is the NON-Five fold that it appears has the greater calling to evangelize the world.

Also, the difference between us and the first disciples…also mentioned above…was that they were to tarry in Jerusalem until endued with power. They were the initial recipients of the Holy Spirit being poured out upon all flesh. Peter was still the same ole weak Peter Jesus walked with until the day of Pentecost. After Pentecost, we saw Spirit filled Peter. That same outpouring is available to us today.

But notice this….Not all 120 in the upper room were of the five fold ministry. Yet, they were equally empowered by the Holy Spirit. I could go on but this is your soap box:)

And, finally, we close with this from Jim at The Domain For Truth(Anybody who agrees with me has to be on the list!):

I agree with both the conclusion to your two questions

Thanks for those great comments, friends!

Next up: What does to mean to evangelize? What does it mean to witness? Is it the same for all of us?

 

 

 

When Jesus Finally Said, “Go,” Who Was He Talking to, Anyway?

witnesses-for-jesus

We have been taking a look at the many times during His earthly ministry when Jesus told others to Not tell about the great works He was doing; many were instructed to keep the things He had done secret. I think we have all arrived at some very reasonable reasons why Jesus issued these instructions over the course of a couple of weeks.

It also seems clear that, at some point, Jesus changed this instruction and then commanded people to go out and tell as many as they could. Two questions seem to arise: 1. Why did this change, and 2. Who was instructed to go tell?

What changed?

Obviously, the biggest thing that changed was the resurrection. This event established clearly just who Jesus was; it established clearly that He was, in fact, The Messiah. Before, seemingly to avoid too much attention on only His miracles, Jesus commanded that these things sometimes be kept quiet. Now, it was time to tell the world.

Peter clearly revealed the nature of who Jesus was during his famous sermon on the day of Pentecost:

Acts 2:32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.

Acts 2:36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Jesus, appearing to some disciples after His resurrection, taught them that they now knew all of Him they needed to know and that their teaching was complete:

Luke 24:44-48 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things

His instructions soon became explicit to those who followed Him.

At the Last Supper Jesus informed those present:

John 15:27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

At His Ascension, He told them:

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

So, we can clearly see that Jesus’ instructions changed; now His followers were instructed to tell His message far and wide, and to everybody. Only one question remains.

Who is supposed to go? Are all believers to be witnesses?

Yes.

That seems simple, right? Well perhaps it is, yet to some it is not. Allow me to explain. There seems some thoughts out there about just who is to tell the world about Jesus. This is not going to be deep theology here, just some simple thoughts as revealed in God’s Word to us.

Some say, that the Great Commission was only delivered to the Apostles. In other words, when Jesus said these words:

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inb the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

that He was only speaking to those directly assembled with Him, and that the instructions do not apply us today. Well, yes, technically Jesus was in fact speaking to the Apostles. Just because this message was given to the Apostles does not mean it was only for the Apostles.  I would suggest we should be careful in applying that logic to things Jesus and other writers said to specific people; using that thinking we could lay claim large parts of God’s Word not being applicable to us, as “Well, that writer was only talking to ________ there, not us.” While directed at those present, there in nothing overall to indicate that we are released from this instruction today.  In fact, if we place it into relation to some of the words we talked about earlier in the post, it is pretty evident there is no restriction on the “who,” here.

There seems to be some concern by some that we aren’t all evangelists, given the gift of Evangelism as put for in Ephesians 4:11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,

There are a couple of issues here. Sure, not all are called to occupy any official office or position as “evangelist.” So what? Nothing there says we are released from the obligation to practice evangelism, or to be witnesses for Jesus. This is true no more than saying not being given the gift of helps means we don’t have to help, or not being given the gift of prayer means we don’t have to pray.

In summary, the command for believers applies to us all. We don’t always like it, and sometimes would rather be exempt from it; nonetheless, we are all subject to it.

What are your thoughts on this?

Next: If the command to “go,” is for all of us, why don’t we?

 

 

 

So…Why Did Jesus Say Don’t Tell?

great commission

Over the last week or so, we have been having an interesting conversation around here concerning the topic of why sometime during His Earthly ministry Jesus told some people to NOT tell anyone about His activities, and at other time He told people to proclaim it every where. The question of the hour is….Why?

Comments have been great, and really the question has been answered. I just wanted to sort of wrap things up in a tidy little package for reader perusal and thoughts. I am not really adding a thing to the many great ideas which have been presented.

Perhaps the most overriding point that was made in so many comments was something like this: “God knows what He is doing.” Simple huh? Simple but yet so very true. Like many things we don’t always see clearly exactly why or for what reason things may have occurred, but we can rest assured that God was working His plan in the best way possible to accomplish His plan. As I have heard said around the blog world, “Compared to God we are all morons.” In summation, theorizing is nice, and great study, but ultimately we may just not get it one hundred percent right this side of Heaven.

Let’s move on, then and look at some specifics and examples.

A lot of the injunctions to people not to say what had happened to them had to do with Jesus being able to stay on message.

Jesus’ message then is the same as it is now. Repentance, faith, and salvation. It was not about the healings and the miracles. Those were not the message; those were the proof that His message was real.

We can see in many of these accounts that people came from all over, not always to hear the actual message Jesus had, but simply for what He could do for them. Mark 1:45, Mark 6:54-56

Jesus seemed quite certain of this motivation in the words He spoke to the man seeking to see his servant healed. John 4:48

Jesus was constantly being followed and stalked by the pharisees, which may be why he instructed the leper He healed to go straight to the priests to be pronounced ceremonially clean by them, so that they could not dispute the nature and truth of what Jesus had actually done. Mark 1:41-42

What about the audience for His message? This I just toss out as food for thought and readers can draw their own conclusions. God knows who will respond to His message and who will not. It seems in the cases where Jesus told someone to spread the word, or allowed them to spread the word, there were differences in both the places and the audiences involved. Both the demon possessed in Gadara, Mark 5, and the woman at the well in Samaria, in John 4 seem to fit this thought. Just think about it and chime in if you feel like it!

That’s really all I want to say here, as it’s all been said well thus far in our talks. If you want to catch up on those, just pick the last few Monday’s or Wednesday’s and read up.

Next, we are moving on to Jesus’ clear instructions to us to get out there and  spread the Word, and the unfortunate fact that, for the most part, we don’t.

Until next time!

 

 

 

Ssshhh…Don’t Tell Anybody What I did-Some Commenter Thoughts.

great commission

In Monday’s post, we introduced our topic for today. While Jesus ultimately told His disciples, and us, to go into all the world and tell His message of forgiveness and salvation. We also saw many cases where Jesus instructed people to NOT tell anyone else of the things He had done. On the surface, this seems odd, as we would think Jesus would have wanted the word spread far and wide about the things He was doing, such as healing the blind and so forth. What in the world was this about?

Since I fell somewhat lazy and pressed for time as I write this, and because some really great conversation was generated, today’s post is just going to be the thoughts of some of the nice brothers and sisters who dropped by to share their thoughts on this matter.

My own thoughts will just have to wait! Read what these commenters had to say; it was good stuff. Feel free to add your own to the mix. Finally, pop over to some great blogs for some great reading!

Blessings and enjoy!

From Tricia

“Very interesting topic to ponder there Wally. My opinion is that whatever one was supposed to do, tell or not tell just had to do with the circumstances and people involved. Jesus always knew which action would best bring about His glory.”

From Salvageable

“Ah, yes, the messianic secret. You are likely going this direction already, but I think the key passage is Matthew 16:13-23. When Jesus asks, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus congratulates Peter on having the right answer, but strictly tells the disciples to tell no one. Then he starts describing his mission as the Christ. Peter says, “Far be it from you, Lord! This should never happen to you.” Jesus rebukes Peter with very strong language, because Peter is trying to block Jesus from his mission, just as Satan wants to block Jesus from his mission. Conclusion: Jesus told those who did not understand his mission to keep silent because he knew they would be off-base in their witnessing. Jesus encouraged and commanded those who understood his mission to share what they knew. Of course it shows the waywardness of the human heart that those who “get it” remain silent while those who “don’t get it” fill the world with their misinformation about Jesus. (But not always– the Spirit of God still moves among his people.) J.”

From Insanitybytes

“Hmm, this is an interesting discussion! I think I am with Tricia here, but we should put an adventuresome spin on it, something akin to being undercover, covert, like spies. We are called to be wise as serpents, but gentle as doves, sent out among wolves. People faced a lot of persecution in those days and so existed somewhat underground, covertly. I suspect part of the story has to do with advancing the kingdom and Christ is aware of when speaking is going to simply bring trouble upon their heads and when it is going to spread the message. The possessed man He heals begs to go with Jesus, but he is told to remain behind and spread the word. Jesus and the Disciples are leaving, so they are not going to be questioned, arrested, or attract attention.

I’m a bit like Peter, just lop the man’s ear off and be done with it, which of course is not part of the plan, not God’s will. It’s the right action perhaps, but just at the wrong time, in the wrong context. That is how I often see Christ leading, He is coordinating the timing and how it will influence other events.”

From Susan

“Hey Wally – great discussion question. I also think part of it has to do with Jesus carrying out the Father’s will. He knew exactly the day and hour he was supposed to die, and probably did not want to hasten it. If others spoke too soon and too often of his miracles, his death may have occurred in a way that would not have been a public spectacle and would not have brought glory to God in his resurrection”

Good stuff huh? Thanks to my friends for chiming in, and  invite the rest of you to do so. I could leave it at this, and the original question would be answered quite nicely. But, hey, I am a writer, so I have to say my piece too!

Until Friday!

 

 

 

Don’t Tell Anybody-OK, Now Tell EVERYBODY!

great commission

A while back I posted this Just a Thought post which read as follows:

During His ministry, Jesus often told people to keep His works quiet, and they ran around telling everybody.

When He left, he told us to go tell everybody, and we don’t

Weird

My blogging friend Dawn asked the following:

“Got any thoughts as to why this is??? So true, though.”

I gave a brief answer one way, and my other blogging friend, Patrick, said this:

“I may be wrong, but I think Dawn was asking why Jesus said to keep His works quiet during His ministry.”

I had given a brief answer as to why I thought we DON’T tell it today when we are clearly told to, but did not address the whys of the reasons Jesus told people NOT to tell of His great works.

Honestly, it’s just not something I had considered that much and really had no thoughts to offer. So, now that some time has elapsed and I have studied some, I am prepared to offer what God’s Word seems to be teaching us.

This will be a multi part mini series, just to keep things short and to the point. Today will be just our introduction to things; and over the next few Monday and Wednesday posts we will look at why the seemingly differing instructions were given.

Today we are just going to take a look at some of the instances in The Bible where Jesus first told people NOT to tell of the great works He had done, and some of the cases where He told others to go and even sent them out to tell. All these will be referenced to the applicable passages; by all means study and formulate some thoughts for discussion.

Don’t Tell

Several of these instances occur in more than one of the Gospels, but these are the times Jesus instructed another person NOT to tell what they knew of Him

In Matthew 8, Jesus healed a leper, then instructed him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”

In Matthew 9, Jesus healed two blind men, then told them, “See that no one knows about it.”

In Matthew 12, after healing the man with the withered hand, Jesus left the Synagogue and healed many yet “ordered them not to make him known.”

In Matthew 16, Jesus instructed his disciples “to tell no one that he was the Christ.”

In Matthew 17, after His transfiguration Jesus instructed those who were with Him, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.

In Mark 3 Jesus cast out demons, he instructed the evil spirits, “not to make him known.”

In Mark 5, after healing Jarius’ daughter, “He strictly charged them that no one should know this”

In Mark 7, after healing the deaf man, Jesus again, “Jesus charged them to tell no one

In Mark 8 after Peter acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ, “He strictly charged them to tell no one about him.”

Tell

There were also times when Jesus clearly told a person to either go tell of Him, did not object when they did, or sent them out personally.

One of the story we can read in Luke 8 is the story of the demon possessed man living in the tombs near the town of Gadara; this man was possessed by so many demons that they left him and entered a herd pigs which immediately ran over a cliff into the sea. Immediately the swine herdsmen returned to their town and told this story, and as a result many came from the town to see the man who had done this. The previously possessed man was still there, sitting at the feet of Jesus. He requested of Jesus that he be allowed to remain with him, but Jesus instructed him, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.”

The story of the woman at the well in John 4 provides another useful example. After she came to realize she was talking to the Messiah, she returned to her town and told what had happened to her. As a result, many came to believe. Many more came to the well themselves, heard Jesus teach, and were saved. In this case Jesus never instructed any one to not speak of what they had seen.

Jesus not only allowed some to tell of His work, but on at least two occasions He sent His messengers out to do just that, as we see in Matthew 10 with the sending out of the 12 disciples, or in Luke 10 with the sending out of the 72.

In Acts 1 just before He ascended to Heaven, Jesus had lthe following to say to those with Him,But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

And of course the most famous instruction of all from Jesus to go into the world and proclaim His message:

Matthew 28:18-20

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inb the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

So, what’s really going on here? Did Jesus want people to tell it or not? Does He want us to tell it or not?

Why did he tell those folks to keep silent, and in most cases they shouted it from the hilltops? Why now that He tells us to shout it from the hilltops are we mostly silent?

Come back on Wednesday and let’s talk about all of that!

 

 

What Should Christians Really Be Worried About?

Rather than my normal, “get up out of bed and go to church” post, this morning I am running something from about a year ago, when the then current political crisis of the day was raging. The crises have changed, but the lesson has not.

Acts 1:11

Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.


A re run from an earlier post

Before I dive into this post, allow me to say a couple of things. First of all, I may later take some liberties with the application of the above verse. I don’t think I will take them too far, but some might disagree. Second, I know that some of what I may say may make some folks want to come to my house and have a little talk. Well, that’s okay.

I totally understand that our county, and the world around us appears to be descending into chaos, anarchy or even Imperial control. Look around; the issues we face are huge.

Ferguson MO is on fire. Doesn’t matter why in this post, but it is. My opinions on that topic aren’t relevant to this. It is, however, tragic.

We face a monstrous immigration crisis. Once again, my opinion on the topic is irrelevant to this post. But, it is a crisis.

The rise of militant, violent Islam is a security crisis for the world and our country. Once again, any further opinions do not matter.

Our government appears stonewalled, and the only thing happening appears to be executive orders by an extremely unpopular president. Once again, any further opinions on politics do not matter.

All of these things matter, and they matter a lot. Resolving them matters a lot. Please understand I am not saying these things are not important; they are; they are; they are. Got it? Scripture teaches as well, that we have responsibilities to be good citizens; that includes participation in the political process.

So, now let’s take a look at our verse above. Here is the quick background. Read the full story in Acts Chapter 1. Jesus had just completed his post resurrection ministry on Earth and was ascending into Heaven to take His place with His Father. He had clearly discussed with His disciples what they were to do after His Ascension. However, as Jesus disappeared into the clouds, they were just standing there staring, very likely with their mouths hanging open. That is when two angels appeared and issued this somewhat paraphrased rebuke to them, “Hey! Why are you all just standing here staring? Jesus told you He was coming back and He told you what you needed to be up to! Get back to Jerusalem and do what He said!” Okay, that was VERY paraphrased.

So, what had He instructed them? In Acts 1:4, He had instructed them to return to Jerusalem and await the empowering of the Holy Spirit. He elaborated further in Acts 1:8, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”  In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus issued this instruction, “ And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

Guess what? Those instructions have never changed, not in the 2000 years since they were issued by our Lord. Rather than staring up at the clouds with our mouths hanging open, we need to be out there getting busy fulfilling the instructions Jesus issued to us.

What, you say, is my point? We spend tons of time, talking and energy on these issues. Once again, let me reiterate that they are important issues. But, are they truly our assigned mission on this Earth? We talk about them, we have opinions about them, we vocalize loudly about them and we post about them on Facebook. What if we took even a small amount of that time, vocalization and energy and used it to share the Gospel with somebody who needed it?

We were all non believers at some point in our lives. How did we act? We probably acted like pagans. After all pagans are going to act like pagans. For us to expect the world to behave differently in anyway is almost nonsensical thinking. What changed us from what we were to what we are hopefully becoming? Of course, the answer is the salvation offered through Jesus Christ and the subsequent indwelling of the Holy Spirit. That is the only thing that can make us “better.”

Do we want the world to really be different? Share the Gospel with energy and effort. Tell your children and your family will change. Tell your neighbors and your neighborhood will change. Like a pebble in a pond, the ripple can and will spread. Remember in Acts 17:6, when the disciples were referred to as, “those that have turned the world upside down”?

Of course, everyone will never be saved; the world will never be completely restored until God chooses to do that at some point in the future. But when we face him someday, do we want to be able to say we did our best and hear these words: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant“?

How a 35 Year Old Jewish Lawyer Finds Jesus

This post was first published almost a year ago. I was honored to be able to share this story and for some reason feel led to share it yet again.

Melissa

A….35 year old…..Jewish…lawyer…finds Jesus. If the emphasis on those three things seems a bit much, allow me to explain. We all know that the older one is, the more resistant one tends to be to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Most people, if not converted by 35 will not be. I have nothing against lawyers, but the facts are that overall, with their emphasis on proofs and logic, attorneys might not seem prime candidates to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Last, but not least; we have Jewish. As a whole, the Jewish people have rejected Jesus as the Messiah, and conversions are not that common. So, what we have here is a 35 year old Jewish Lawyer who has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Meet Melissa Zellniker Presser. Melissa is one of my online friends and dear Sister in Christ.  With that introduction behind us; I will allow Melissa to tell her own story. I hope it will inspire you as much as it inspired me.

 


Melissa’s Story

I am a Jew. I am a Jewish wife. I am a Jewish mother. I am a Jewish lawyer. And I love Jesus. And what does that make me? Complete.

How can I love Jesus, you ask? It’s easy. He’s easy to love. He’s easier for a Jew to love because he is our messiah, given to us, his chosen people by God. But we missed him. And I missed him. That was until I turned 35.

I grew up a conservative Jew. I went to temple and Hebrew school. I celebrated Rosh Hashanah and fasted on Yom Kippur. I lit the candles on Hanukkah. I would sing to God in shul. But I was empty. My parents would drop me off on Saturdays so that I could attend temple. I would chant and read and chant some more. It was static and monochromatic and I felt trapped. Where is God, where is He? I was following the tradition of my ancestors by attending shul and felt holy while I was there. Holy and empty. But how can that be? I was so busy trying to follow all of God’s commandments I never realized God even existed. What’s that you say? You were an atheist? Yes, you could call me that. For God was a concept and not a person to me. I was following along with the script that was being read to me. I never felt God. Never even questioned or thought about why I didn’t. I just accepted the fact that this is who I was and this is what was and that was that.

It wasn’t until my grandfather died that I started to have revelation. While sitting shiva, I was told by the Rabbi that I could not pray for my grandfather. That only men could pray and chant the prayers for the dead. “Thank you very much”, I said. “Well, you have two choices Rabbi. Either you let me pray or I can let you leave.” I said it with ease. It was a poignant moment for me. An innate feeling bigger than me that told me that this God that I knew would not turn me away from praying and mourning for my deceased grandfather. Why would the God who I worshipped and gave every Saturday to turn away from me? Why would He reject me? There’s no way, I thought to myself that this is God’s will. So when the Rabbi turned to answer me, I was already on my knees, chanting the mourner’s kaddish. He also joined me on His knees, but he was silent.

The more I chased after God, the further I fell. I started to turn away from anything that seemed remotely religious or connected to God. As a young Jewish girl, I felt God had put me on the marked for death hit list. That He didn’t love me. That it truly didn’t matter what I did for him or how much time I spent in his house. For I saw the so called righteous religious people pay $1,000 a seat for Yom Kippur service while I got turned away for not having money to pay for my seat. Where was the “God” in that?

I chose to leave God, and my road led to well, nowhere. It seemed to be a metaphor for a trip I took later on in my life. My husband and I went to Hawaii for our one year wedding anniversary. Being the adventurous spirits that we are, we planned a day trip on the Road to Hanna. This Road is known for the scenery along the way. Essentially it is known for the journey. My husband and I believed that at the end to this Road we would encounter paradise. So we went along on the Road to Hanna. Initially, we remarked on how beautiful it was, but eventually we grew tired of it. As the hours passed we became more anxious to arrive. We had had enough of this long winding road.

And so several hours later, tired, hungry and thirsty we saw ahead of us the end. “There it is!” we shouted. We had finally reached the end. We parked the car and began walking towards the end of this road. We both got quiet and then started laughing. This is it? There’s nothing here! Where was this beautiful paradise? It was nowhere to be found. And we named it the Road to Nada. A long and treacherous road to travel, with a disappointing ending.

This was the story of my life. I was always seeking and searching. Always trying to find the answer at the end. But every road I took lead to disappointment. Every road led to nothing.

It wasn’t until I hit the pinnacle of brokenness that I found Jesus. He was waiting for me, this I know. Had I known now that he was waiting for me on the other side, I wouldn’t have walked but would have sprinted towards him. And I would have endured every pain and then some to run into His loving arms all over again.

My life was never easy. In fact I believed I was destined to die. On the outside I had everything but on the inside I had nothing. I was the straight A Honors student. The popular one. The cheerleader. Bat mitzvah. Graduated college. Went on to law school. Became a successful attorney. Married my bsheret. Was blessed with three children. This was what the world saw. Because the world looks at the outside. God looks at our heart.

On the inside I was broken. I had been sexually abused and never told anyone. I suffered from depression and anxiety. I hated myself. I was rejected by the one place that I thought would accept me- the temple. I tried to find my satisfaction in many broken relationships- whether a boyfriend or a friend. I lived my life for others. Because if they saw the pain inside of me, surely they would not accept me. I would be an outcast. But in my mind and heart I already was. And most days I counted down the days until God would take me from this earth. And then was the moment that truly took me away from God, the day my beloved grandmother died.

There were too many things wrong and nothing that was right. I could have cared less about my law degree and in fact would have been much happier cleaning floors somewhere in the background where nobody could see me. But something kept me alive. Something deep inside me told me I was special. And that something was the quiet whispers of God calling me back to him.

You see, I am a stubborn Jewish girl. Aggressive and bold. Defensive. I married a stubborn Israeli Jewish boy. Aggressive and bold. Defensive. And you can see where that might have led us.

I have only known two true loves in my life before I had my children. The love I had for my grandmother and the love I have for my husband. God took the first one away and not long after that almost took the other. Five years after I lost my grandmother, I almost lost my marriage. How could God do this to me? Even when I renounced his name, he kept coming back for more. I slipped away from the world without the world knowing it. I tried to run away from God. It’s no use, I thought, nothing matters anymore. That was until I heard a still small voice inside of me. It was clear and resounding and would not leave me alone.

A week before Mother’s day, I heard that still small voice again. It told me to reach out to a friend’s mother and ask for help. I asked her if she went to church and she told me yes, and that I had a divine appointment that next day. I remember thinking in that moment I wanted to end it all. I started devising a way that I could end my life. And in that moment I lifted my chin up to see the faces of my three beautiful children.

The next day I walked into the church and met my mother from the Lord. She knew immediately something was wrong. She started to pray over me in a way I had never heard- with such conviction and passion. I didn’t care that I was in a church and that she was praying in the name of Jesus. In that moment, all I could do was think of the horrible emotional pain I was in and how I would survive past this day.

The sermon moved me. I was gripped. And the name of Jesus rolled easier off my tongue. I stopped caring about what the world thought and started concentrating on my three children. I don’t remember exactly what I said when I cried out to God that night but I am pretty sure it went something like this, “God I just can’t do life anymore. I cannot and will not leave these kids without a mother. But the emptiness and pain I feel in my heart is so overwhelming that I cannot live another day on this earth with it. I feel like I am going to die. If Jesus really is the answer Lord I accept him. Please take away this pain in my heart, it consumes me. Jesus heal me and let me live for the children I am a mother to.” I remember nothing else after that until the next morning.

I woke up and looked over at my husband. I clutched my chest. Where was the pain? Where had it gone? I kept touching my chest looking to find it. But it was not there. As I clutched my chest, I looked over at my husband who was sleeping next to me. All of a sudden my body started to fill with life. I could feel my heart beating and from my feet to my head, my soul started to fill with love. In my mind God showed me a picture of a pitcher filling up a tall glass with water. He had taken away the pain and replaced it with love. It was real. I was different. I was restored. It was then that I knew that He was real.

The next week I brought my husband back to church. The Lord was calling me, it was clear. At the end of the sermon when the Pastor asked for those to step forward who would accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior I knew it was my appointed time. It was Mother’s Day. And I came to accept God’s son as my personal Lord and Savior. And I was baptized in his name.

My life will never be the same. The only regret I have is that I did not accept Jesus sooner. My husband has since accepted Christ and our marriage is stronger than ever. We are more in love today than we were when we were first dating. My children have come to know and love Jesus and it shows. It shows in their kindness and their respect and their spirit of giving. It shows when they speak to Him in prayer and know that they are truly loved by God. My sisters in Christ accepted me with open arms, no questions asked. In fact, they told me of how they were all broken people at one time looking for a savior. That they were all imperfect. Welcome to the club for imperfect people.

My children know where they came from. We teach them about the Jewish holidays and festivals and show them the meaning of each one. We tell them about how we are complete now in our Messiah. It’s quite the eye opener. That I had no idea who I was before Jesus came into my life and in Him I know exactly who I am.

Every day with Him just gets better and better. My husband and I enjoy praying together, sharing the Word of God and serving a loving and merciful God who chose us as his children. Every morning I wake up in tears, overjoyed and just so thankful to be alive.

How could I not want to talk about what saved me from certain death both physically and spiritually? He is real and I am real. My family is real. And we are complete Jews in Jesus Christ. The Son of God.

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