Sharing Your Faith With Others

 

    “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ (Philem 6-7).

 

    There is a strong correlation between those who publicly share their faith with others and an increase in spiritual growth for that individual. In my own journey I’ve discovered that when I stop sharing my faith with non-believers I begin to see a dryness in my walk with God.

 

    Sometimes we justify our lack of verbal witness by saying we don’t have the spiritual gift of evangelism. Or we conclude that because we have an introvert personality we leave witnessing to others who we deem as more qualified. As a well-qualified introvert myself, I’ve often wanted to use that excuse. Then, the Holy Spirit reminds me of a few instructions Jesus said to EVERYONE:

 

    “But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven” (Matt 10:33). “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15-16). There is not much confusion about what Jesus is saying in these verses. And it relates to all of us.

 

    When we share Christ with others God allows us to gain a deeper and greater understanding of every good thing in Christ. Do you see the direct correlation between sharing your faith and your own spiritual growth? Paul says it’s actually a prerequisite to spiritual growth.

 

    One of the great ways to turn a conversation to faith is by asking someone if there is anything you can pray for them about. You will be surprised how easily this will transition you into a conversation about their faith lives.

 
    Ask God for boldness today to offer to pray for someone.

 

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Giving and Receiving

  “Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account (Phil 4:17).

 

    The apostle Paul had a tent-making business. However, over time, it was evident that more and more of his time was being given to vocational ministry activities. That required him to receive income from those to whom he invested his life. It became increasingly difficult to run a business and travel and minister.
 
His letter to the Philippians gives us a perspective on giving. Although Paul appreciated the support financially, his real joy came in the fact that their gift was being credited to their Heavenly account.

Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:14-19 emphasis mine).

    Paul had a confidence that God would always provide what he needed. Sometimes it came from his business. Sometimes it came through others. He was not overly concerned with where his provision would come from. His confidence was in God, his provider. So, his attitude was in affirming the benefit that came to the giver from a Kingdom perspective.
 
    Paul learned that it wasn’t a church or a business that was his provider. It was God. These were merely tools God used to support him.

Immutability

 

 

Immutable!

…the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
James 1:17

Recommended Reading
Psalm 46

If you’re worried about anything at all today, let me introduce you to the subject of the immutability of God. What do we mean when we say something is “immutable”? It means it’s not capable of mutating. In other words, it is not possible for it to change. If something is immutable, it is unchanging and unchangeable. What could that be? Nothing that is part of this world. Everything in the universe is subject to change. Certainly you and I are changing. Our children are changing. Our society is changing. And even the most durable elements of our natural world and in our universe are changing.

But Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever; the Alpha and Omega. The Lord says, “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:19). Malachi 3:6 says, “I am the LORD, I do not change.” In Christ we have a rock of stability. We have a Friend whose word will never go out of style. We have a Savior who is as dependable now as He was two thousand years ago.

In times of instability, focus on God’s immutability.

Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not; as Thou hast been, Thou forever will be. 
Thomas O. Chisholm

 

How God Sees Money

 

The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 
1 Timothy 6:10

Recommended Reading
1 Timothy 6:6-10

In his book about heaven, D. L. Moody writes, “Somebody has said that getting riches brings care; keeping them brings trouble; abusing them brings guilt; and losing them brings sorrow. It’s a great mistake to make so much of riches as we do.”

As followers of Christ, we need God’s wisdom in our approach to money. We need to view our checkbooks, bank accounts, and paychecks exactly as He does. He knows we have bills to pay. He knows we need to provide for our families and store up for rainy days. He also knows the brevity of life and the uselessness of money beyond the grave. The most valuable things are those He provides  free of charge, like air to breathe and sunlight to bathe our faces. The Lord knows how to provide for us in every condition.

The tentacles of greed wrap themselves around us when we substitute our wisdom for God’s as it relates to money. May the Lord Jesus give us His wisdom  & grace as we remember that nothing we  have belongs to us. We belong to Him, and all we have is His.

As long as you want anything more than you want God, it is an idol, and God will certainly not allow an idol to take His place in the lives of His children without calling them on it through the circumstances of their lives. 

 

Yuck or Yum

Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised. 
Psalm 145:2-3

Recommended Reading
Colossians 4:2-6

We have approximately 9,000 taste buds in our mouths, each with ten to fifteen receptacles that send messages to the brain saying Yuck or Yum. John Harrison, the official taste tester for a major ice cream company, has developed such a sensitive and discriminating tongue that his taste buds are insured for a million dollars. Over the years Harrison has sampled more than 180 million gallons of ice cream (yet he claims his cholesterol is still under 200).

All of us need a sensitive and discriminating tongue, which the Bible compares to honey and apples. Proverbs 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” And Proverbs 25:11 adds, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”

Today, ask God to give you by His Holy Spirit a sensitivity of speech to impart timely words, sensitive to each situation and seasoned with Scripture. To refine our speech, we must refine the source — the heart. God-honoring speech comes only from a heart that honors God.

Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King. Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee. 
Frances Ridley Havergal

Faith Proved Genuine

Even one of their own prophets has said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.’ This testimony is true. Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the commands of those who reject the truth (Titus 1:12-15).

 

    In December 1983, The Princeton Religion Research Center published a landmark survey conducted for The Wall Street Journal by the Gallup Organization. The researchers measured a wide range of moral and ethical behaviors, such as calling in sick when not sick, cheating on income tax, and pilfering company supplies for personal use. The results were disappointing, to say the least.

 

    But what the researchers found most startling was that there was no significant difference between the churched and the unchurched in their ethics and values on the job. In other words, despite the fact that more and more people were attending churches, churches seemed to be having less and less of an impact on the moral fiber of their people, at least in the workplace.

 

    To quote the researchers: “These findings will come as a shock to the religious leaders and underscore the need for religious leaders to channel the new religious interest in America not simply into religious involvement but in deep spiritual commitment.”

 

    “Either these are not the gospels, or we’re not Christians,” said Thomas Linacre, Henry VIII’s doctor and Renaissance thinker, after given the four gospels in Greek. Linacre recognized a great disparity between those who proclaimed Christ and how they lived their lives.

 

    If our faith life is not validated through our behavior then one must question if we even have a genuine relationship with Christ. The apostle Paul didn’t like what he saw in the believers on the island of Crete. They proclaimed Christ with their mouth, but their behavior looked no different than those who did not claim Christ.

 
    Pray that your faith is “proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:7-8).

Philippians: The Fellowship of Joy Philippians 1:12-20

Preached @ Anchor Church on August 25th, 2013

“Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it

Matthew 16:17-18

Intro

Yahoo News recently reported, “Religious people are less intelligent than Atheists.” What the criteria for the study, or even how they defined “Religious” was not made known in the article, but it isn’t surprising that those that are most likely less religious would find that they, and those like them are most intelligent. Over the course of history there has always been attacks in one form or another on those that are religious, some warranted, and some not so warranted. However, sometime it feels as though the media has it out for Christians in particular, even though that may not be the case. There are times that the church warrants a strong rebuke and even the comical jabs many media personalities take at it, but there is also a long history of abuse and persecution that still occurs in our world to this day. The fact is, there are times that it appears that the church is being squashed, and the gospel will be eradicated from the world’s mindset. However, many generations think that they have it worse than the previous, but that’s not the case. The early church, as well as many generations of the church were persecuted, and there were times that it seemed that God was absent, that’s how many in the 1st Century must have felt even though Jesus had clearly indicated that “The gates of Hell wouldn’t prevail” against the growth of the Church in the world. In our passage we see how imprisonment and even personal attack doesn’t stop Paul or the gospel from moving forward. Today I want to take a look at the Gospel from 3 different Angles:

 

From the Head…

Angle #1 The Gospel and Negative Circumstances (Philippians 1:12-14)

For some, it doesn’t take much to throw them off course. We struggle with pain and/or suffering, because ultimately, we believe we are deserving of a better life, and God isn’t good enough or powerful enough to make that happen. In our limited understanding, we see pain and suffering as the worse thing possible, and relief from our existential pain as the best thing. But what if there was something worse than suffering here on earth, and something much better than the relief of our temporal pain in this world? This is the angle by which Paul views his circumstances. In spite of a horrible circumstance in his life, he can rejoice because of two things that are more important to him:

  • The gospel has become known throughout the whole imperial guard” (v. 13)

Paul’s mission (Bringing the “Good News” to Macedonia) became more important than Paul’s circumstances. He saw things differently, and was able to rejoice because the persecution didn’t thwart the gospel, but it helped it to grow. The fact is, God is the only one who is able to take that which is evil and turn into a great circumstance (See Genesis 50:20). This was true of the cross of Christ. They thought they were destroying the plan of God, but they were actually carrying out the purposes of a sovereign God (See Acts 2:27-28; see too Acts 8:1-4)

  • “Most of the brothers…are much more bold to speak the word without fear” (v. 14)

Secondly, Paul shows joy because, not only was he able to have great success in prison, but others were gaining a boldness because of it, and they too were sharing Christ boldly with others.

Angle #2 The Gospel and Negative Relationships (Philippians 1:15-17)

The second angle in our text is from the arena of personal relationships, and the pain that is often caused through bad relationships. Paul’s imprisonment is enough to send anyone to question their faith, and the God they believe in, but personal relationships can cause a depth of pain that physical pain doesn’t touch. It’s important to realize that these people weren’t false teachers; they were ministers of the gospel, who had turned their ministries into a self-aggrandizing mission to glorify themselves while hurting Paul in the process. They preached out of “Envy and Rivalry” working for “Selfish Ambition.” Unfortunately many people are in the ministry for all the wrong reasons. Their aim was to hurt Paul with bitterness and slander, but Paul remains ok, because he’s not worried about defending himself as much as he is the gospel going out into the world. While their motives were horrible, their message was pure. This really shows us that we can be preaching orthodoxy (Right Teaching), but living a duplicitous life. St John of the cross explained this ugliness in the church, “As far as envy is concerned, many experience displeasure when they see others in possession of spiritual goods. They feel sensibly hurt because others surpass them on this road, and they resent it when others are praised!” This is the sad, but true reality of many in ministry. When we focus on ourselves, trying to prove something to someone, we end up worrying more about accolades than the glory of Jesus.

 Angle #3 The Gospel and Our Hope (Philippians 1:18-20)

Paul rejoices because Christ is proclaimed, and he himself is being sanctified. This is interesting in that he says, “This will turn out for my deliverance (Salvation). The Greek construct of this statement is exactly the same construct that we see in the Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament) for Job 13:16. He quotes this in the context of Job saying, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.” Our Hope, and Paul’s hope is not in the things that we can get here on earth, our hope is in God’s redemptive plan. He is reminding the Philippians that “This” (His present circumstances) will bring forth his “deliverance” (Salvation, sotarian). He knows that all of our circumstances bring forth God’s redemptive purposes in our life, which brings forth life and joy, rather than death and depression.

This is why we, as believers in Jesus can deal with both the physical and psychological persecution that we face. This is why we can serve this earth, without pretense. We simply don’t need anything that God can’t give us. This is in stark contrast to those who are preaching out of envy and strife, and who are trying to find their reward amongst humanity instead of God. 

 …to the Heart

3 Quick Observations

  1. Maintaining Hope and Courage in Adversity Comes From the Object of that Hope
  2. Being Hopeful in Hopeless Times Does Not Mean You Are Unaware of the Pain
  3. The Ability to Glorify God In Our Bodies Comes From the Power of the Spirit

 Is God your all in all? Or are you looking for something else to comfort you, or to kill the pain?

Do you see yourself in a purposeful mission from God, or in an aimless, rudderless existence?

Is Christ proclaimed your great hope? Or has it become a mundane message you are struggling to believe?

Christ has gone to the cross to field our pain, take on our burden, so that we could be relieved of our existential angst, and the real guilt of our shame, so that we could be made whole, and worship God with overflowing joy in spite of the pain we feel on the inside.

 

Further Questions to Ponder

  1. Why is so hard for us to practice this truth?
  2. Why is the “Progress of the gospel” so important?
  3. What importance does the gospel have in my own life?
  4. What kind of pain do you think Paul felt in our verses?
  5. How was he able to cope with that pain?

 

For Further Reading

Philippians: The NIV Application Commentary, Frank Theilman

Commentary on Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians, John Calvin

Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (New International Commentary on the NT), Gordon Fee

Philippians (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the NT), Moises Silva

Paul For Everyone: The Prison Letters, Tom Wright

The Letter to the Philippians (Pillar NT Commentary), G. Walter Hansen

Life Lessons Study Guide: Philippians, Max Lucado