We are commanded to love those around us. Loving them means to tell them the truth about Jesus. However, we must be wise. We must be discerning. How ought we to tell them the truth? It is possible to tell someone the truth in a most unloving way. It is possible to tell someone the truth about Jesus apart from the love of Jesus. We must be discerning. We must pray. A Christian cannot escape or run from this blessed responsibility to tell people the truth. Christianity void of sharing the truth is no Christianity at all. However, we must follow Jesus. We must ask the Holy Spirit, our Counselor and Teacher how we ought to tell the people we love the truth about Jesus. We must pray and we must always prioritize love. Love does not burden. The love of Jesus frees us from our burdens. The truth will undoubtedly upset some. Jesus, the word and sword of the Spirit, came into this world to divide. His blessed name causes pain and causes division. However, this pain is only the result of our sinful flesh being judged. This division is only the separation of what is sinful to what is ready to be made holy in the name of Jesus. Our primary concern is not that they simply profess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord. Our primary concern is not that they begin attending a place where others profess Jesus is Lord. Our primary concern is love. Jesus loves them do you? Or are they simply assignments? Are they mere obstacles you have to conquer and overcome in order to validate and affirm your calling as a Christian because to share is a commandment? Do you love them? This question must precede any testimony to someone about Jesus as truth and life. Love them and pray for them first. God will make a way for you to tell them the truth. He will give you words. He will ordain the timing. He is not complacent nor has he forgotten about this person you pray for. His timing and will are perfect and good. Trust in him. Have faith, Christian. Our Father in heaven knows and he is good. He loves this person you pray for even more than you do. Do you love them? Do you want them to know the love of Jesus more than a knowledge about him. Do you want them to know that they are healed, set free, beloved, called accepted, forgiven? This is the truth. This is the good news. They need to know the truth and perhaps you are the one to tell them. Love them and pray that your love for them open their eyes to Jesus who loved them first.
The Christian life is obsessed with Jesus. There is no other name. There is no other gospel. There is no other authority. There is no other way. It is Jesus, all the time Jesus. Beware of people, churches, ministries, websites, artists that take any of the precious and holy glory that belongs to Jesus. The effectiveness of any ministry can be graded and assessed on how much or how little attention and credit is given to the name of Jesus above all other names. Are churches concerned about losing members to other churches? Yes. Why? If the person is better fit at another church in a different environment rejoice that they are being called to know Jesus more at all. Are non-profits and private ministries competing with other non-profits and private ministries? Why? The purpose of reaching out to people in the first place is to provide a bridge between them and Jesus. Rejoice that they have found the truth in Jesus anywhere even if that means that they found it somewhere else. Are conferences and denominations competing with the popularity and growth of other conferences and denominations? Yes. Why? Jesus isn’t about one conference or denomination. The gospel he brought into this world is about him. Anything created in this world is temporary except the relationship between Jesus and the believer. It is of no importance how that person came to believe in Jesus with whom or where. All of those points are secondary and irrelevant. Do they know Jesus? Are they getting to know Jesus? Pray that people know Jesus. God will provide for you. He is not taking anything from you. God will provide for your ministry. God will provide for your church. There might be seasons where there is less. Expect that. Welcome that. However, God will always provide exactly what you need. Too much praise for a particular ministry is too little praise for Jesus Christ. We are to hold ministries loosely with our grip on Jesus growing ever tighter with every passing day. Beware of people that tell you that you have to come to them to know Jesus. Beware of people that claim to have THE way. Beware of people that claim that they have an anointing that others lack. Get know Jesus. Experience his grace in your life. Trust in Jesus. Be anointed by the blessed anointing of becoming a beloved child of the living God in the name of Jesus. This is all you need and all you will ever need. Forsake worldly loyalties for an everlasting devotion to your savior, Jesus Christ.
Patience. We must be patient. We must be willing to be made patient. The Lord’s will and plan require us to wait. Not in agony but in faith and confidence that time in between steps is never wasted. Our Lord is always at work in us as long as we are always in pursuit of him. However, knowing him and obeying him requires patience. Waiting on the Lord’s return cannot become an idol. Now should we remain idle. We have work to do now. We have a purpose where we are right now. We are not then. We are now. To ignore the leading of the Lord today is to forsake his command to follow him patiently one day at a time. We all want to know. We all have questions we want answered? What will the end look like? When will it happen? Who will do what? But are these to be our daily concerns? No. Patience. We must wait patiently for the Lord to reveal his plan according to his timing. We are allowed to wonder and be curious about the end. However, in taking this good news of Jesus to the world we are not to guess about the end. We are not to hypothesize. We are not to imagine and create. The end will come and when it does all people in all nations will know precisely what is happening. Until then, tell them about Jesus. Tell them about how God has accomplished things in your life outside of your planning and timing. Your new life in Jesus did not take a conventional route nor did it come when you thought it would. Knowing this to be true, how we can we then approach the end in such a linear and predictable manner? The prophets wrote about the Messiah Jesus hundreds of years before their words were approved and verified by the life of Jesus. They were mocked and cast out. But they were right. God’s word never fails. It will outlast the entire creation we see today. God has never been proven to be wrong and nothing foretold about Jesus and by Jesus has ever failed or ever will. The promise of the end is God’s word and therefore it will happen. But we know little more than that. Why claim to? Be patient and wait with the rest of us. There is peace to be found in allowing God to be in control of such things. It is his grace that we have not been given the burden of knowing too much. Rejoice that he has protected us from seeing too much. Preach the good news and never hide the fact that time is short. How much? We do not know. But we know that every day matters, every person matters and God will accomplish what he said. Until then, wait, preach, pray and wait.
It is ok to be young in your faith. It is ok to not have all the answers. It is ok to take small baby steps before you run. In fact, this is wonderfully healthy and good. Pray, on the other hand, that the Lord keep you from running before you are able and before it is safe to do so. This Christian faith has no concern with how quickly you learn and how far you’ve gone. The primary concern of Christianity is, do you know Jesus and are you continuing to know him more? A good conversation with a lifetime friend is not assessed on how many topics were covered and how quickly the conversation was brought to a close. No. Never confuse quantity for quality. In Christ you are born again. You are starting over. This can be an attack on our pride but what is more important, your pride or your life? Would you rather know that your pride is in tact or would you rather know that your life has been saved? Don’t fear correction and don’t fear failure. You will fail. You won’t get everything right the first time. Or the second time. And so on. But that’s not the point, is it? The point is that daily you are laying your life down for the sake of Jesus. The point is that daily you are admitting that you are helplessly incapable while God is eternally able. You are a child of God. You are a disciple of Jesus. You are a born again Christian. Where do we find the idea that we have it altogether, we know all the steps and it’s time for us to instruct those around us? Child, Disciple, Newborn. All of these denote beginnings, submission, humility, helplessness, neediness and trust. We trust in Jesus because without him we have no one to provide for us. We are lost and have not direction without him. We are dead and have no hope of living without the death he died. Pray for a heart that desires to know basics and never stop praying. Over time you will grow and the walk will become more. Likewise your knowledge and understanding of who God is will develop and change. You will need more. You will know more. You will find that God continues to give you more. But the message of the Cross is simple and not to be left and abandoned for the sake of advancement. The message of the Cross is not there to be appreciated but then undervalued and unappreciated in the presence of more interesting and more complex subjects. The message of the Cross is basic and it will remain so for eternity. Our sin, however, is complex and complicated and only by the power of the Cross will we understand why we so often resist the simplicity of the Cross.
Our aversion to pain, loss and sorrow creates in us a fear of suffering. We view suffering as a step back and not forward. We encounter suffering and we wish that it hadn’t interrupted our progress. We experience suffering and we second-guess our actions playing back in our minds any possible scenario where we might have avoided the suffering altogether. The lesson we often take away from a period of suffering is how we ought to avoid such an experience in the future. In some ways, our entire lives are built upon that premise. Avoid suffering, find happiness. Avoid suffering, find success. But do we really believe this? Have we truly convinced ourselves that a life void of suffering is the best for us. Not the most enjoyable, but the best for us. In fact, suffering refines us in a way that nothing else can. It reveals who you truly are. It reveals what this world truly is. And it reveals where are help truly comes from. Without suffering we live a numb existence. The question is not, how can we avoid suffering? The question is, how could we truly live without suffering? This world is full of suffering and although God did not create suffering and call it good, he remains sovereign over this world that contains so much of it. This world has suffering but praise be to the name of Jesus that he has overcome this world. Don’t run from suffering. Don’t fear suffering. Don’t clamor for ways to avoid the suffering. Embrace suffering and welcome the way God ordains and anoints it to reveal miracles in your life. Allow our heavenly Father to give you good gifts and to be with you. He is. And he does. There is nothing beyond his reach and outside of his sovereignty. Are you experiencing suffering at this very moment? I’m sorry and I pray that you are surrounded by Christ-like comforters and not miserable comforters who feel the need to teach you out of your suffering. However, I’m not sorry you’re experiencing suffering. Why? Because this means God is still so passionately involved in your life. He is teaching you. He is growing you. He is reaching out to you. He is calling for you. He is loving you. You are not numb, praise God! You feel. And this means that you are able to feel the embrace of your Father as you reach out to him in return. The Kingdom of Heaven in this world is supernatural and miraculous. Absent of suffering there is no need for an emergency call of supernatural rescue and salvation. In the presence of suffering we can be saved, we can be rescued, we can participate in the Kingdom of Heaven covering us with power and miraculous transformation and revelation. God is good and all he creates is good. Let him take your suffering and make it good.
Sin once ruled in your body, completely. Because of Jesus that sin was paid in full, completely. There is nothing you can do to add to what he accomplished on the Cross. You were completely incapable of restoring yourself to the living God but because of Jesus and his blood shed for you on the cross, you are now hidden in Jesus Christ and restored, completely. His work is done and it is finished. Your work and deeds at the present time are thank offerings. They are signs that your spirit resembles that of Jesus and not your old self. You tithe not because by tithing you will make your status as “saved” MORE saved. You love your neighbor not because by loving them you will be approved and loved more than if you didn’t. You read your Bible not because by reading the Bible you will inherit more in the Kingdom of Heaven than if you didn’t read at all. No. You do these things because all of these are expressions of an active and transformed relationship with your Father in Heaven grounded in love and to neglect these works and deeds would contradict your new character in Christ as a son and daughter in Christ. There is nothing you can do to add to what Jesus has already done. It is finished. You are right now completely saved to the extent of your needing to be saved past, present and future. You are completely forgiven. You have your inheritance in Jesus. There is nothing more to gain. It is finished. It is done. Live to honor him. Live to thank him. Live to obey him. Live to know him. He knows how sinful you were and are. He knows how intense the fight against the flesh was and is. And he paid the debt, he forgave, he saved, he loved in full. It is finished. That bill was paid and no longer exists. It is finished. It is done. You were lost completely but because of Jesus you are forever found, completely. Now, love him with your life, completely. Do more but earn nothing. Stay busy but consume yourself with his will. Suffer not to earn your stripes but to live a life worthy of his stripes. Live to bless the cross and the son that bought and brought you back to the Father in Jesus’ name, not your own. Don’t hold your breath hoping and praying that you hold on long enough. Instead, breathe a sigh of relief and thankfulness that Jesus lives and that it is finished.
The Spirit of Jesus shines a heavenly light upon sin. Sin is revealed in the presence of the living God. The Spirit of Jesus in you will reveal your sins first and the sins of this broken world second. Our world is broken and you will see it. As God takes you deeper into a genuine faith in Jesus Christ you will undoubtedly see it more and more. You will see those around you spiritually walking themselves toward the edge of a cliff. You will see it. You will care. You will want to act. You will want to save them. But, you can’t. The love of Jesus will often restrain you. The love of Jesus will often reveal that there is little that you can do. You are not the Savior. You don’t know what he knows and you can’t do what he did. You yourself needed saving. You needed him on his terms. It was not by coercion or pressure that you experienced the saving grace of Jesus Christ. It was at a time when you were helpless and there was no one, but Jesus. Many wanted you saved before you were and perhaps many tried to intervene and open your eyes to the approaching cliff. But, you were blind until the living God opened your eyes by grace. For it was by grace you were saved. You yourself needed to see his presence. You needed to see his outstretched hand. You needed to reach out and grab ahold of his undeniable love. The Spirit of Jesus Christ lives on in the Church not by coercion but by grace. It lives on not by the works of man but by the miraculous revelation of the Kingdom of Heaven of God himself by God himself. God is able. He knows. Do you want to intervene? Do you want to act? Do you want to speak up? Pray, Pray, Pray. Wait, Pray and prepare to wait longer. Pray for your brother in need but pray that God would intervene. Don’t pray that their suffering end? Pray that they see Jesus. Pray that they hear his voice. Pray for discernment. And if the Holy Spirit is compelling you to speak, speak to your brother. But keep your head and search your heart. Avoid a discussion that revolves around the root and possible solutions to problems. How can the sick heal the sick or blind lead the blind? Desire a discussion that revolves around Jesus. Remember Jesus. Remember his love. Let Jesus reveal the problem. Let Jesus reveal the conviction. Let Jesus reveal the solution. Love your brother and compel your brother to turn his eyes upon Jesus.
You did not always understand the power of the Gospel. You did not always believe in Jesus. You did not always carry yourself in a way that reflected the righteousness of the living God. There was a time when you neither worshipped nor glorified the living God. There was a time when you actively and persistently denied and opposed the living God. There was a time when you were “not in.” There was a time when you preferred being out. But, by grace you were saved. By the loving pursuit of the living God and by the death of Jesus you were brought back. Knowing this to be a trustworthy saying, what right do you have to position yourself on the judgment seat over those around you? What authority do you possess? What leads you to believe that you have anything over those that are presently exactly where you were? Love broke your chains. Love healed your wounds. Love brought you back to life. How can anything but love be your offering to those around you? Empathy in their alienation should drive you to pray for them as many surely prayed for you. You’ve been where they are. You were where they are. They are you and you are them. How can you believe anything else? Christ’s love breathed life into your dry bones and the same can be true for them. Are you not forever thankful and full of praise that you are alive in Jesus now? Want this for them! Pray this for them! Take no pleasure in their alienation and rejoice when they stand shoulder to shoulder with you having been lost but now perfectly and wonderfully found.
The Gospel will never be popular. We must understand that from the start. With the heart of Christ we always endeavor to bring more souls into the Father’s presence but we will never be the majority. We will never find society as a whole sharing in our visions, motivations and priorities. Get comfortable being outnumbered now! The message of Jesus was rejected from the beginning of his ministry. Furthermore, the message of Jesus was rejected from the very beginning. Because we are sinful in nature we have always rejected the idea that we are better when under the authority or sovereignty of something or someone other than ourselves. We are comforted by messages that preach self-love, self-worth, self-worship and glorification. We love ourselves. We think extremely highly of ourselves. If left up to our own devices we would erect monoliths to ourselves all over the world taking pleasure in the global worship of our name. In Jesus Christ all of these are rejected as deadly lies. Your faith and the Gospel can only truly be measured by how your life is growing daily to know Jesus more. Do you rely on him more than you did one year ago? Do you take more pleasure in knowing him, learning about him, listening to him than one year ago? Are you partaking more and more in his suffering in this world as a result of the growing presence of his life in yours? You are not here to win arguments. You are not here to win people over by forcefully convincing and intellectually strong-arming them into grace. You are called to press on. You are called to give up increasingly more control over your own life letting God direct your steps in the present and the future. Are you rejected? So was Jesus. Are you ignored? So was Jesus. Are you mocked and humiliated, cast out and cast down? So was Jesus. Take comfort, Christian. You are valued by your heavenly Father and in Jesus you are welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven with the inheritance of the Son. Meditate on such things. Know him more. Pray for the world more. More will come to know Jesus before he returns but you are not here to win more. You are here to die more daily so that Christ can be revealed in you. But make no mistake, as Christ is revealed more in you, you will inevitably share in his rejection and persecution more and more. Never mistake your rejection for yours alone. Your rejection is His so that you could be forgiven and accepted like the Son.
Christianity is in its nature the Gospel of grace. There is forgiveness in Jesus. There is understanding in Jesus. But we must never do away with standards and expectations. We must never do away with consequences and repercussions for our actions and behaviors. There is a bar. This bar is not one of perfection but it is one of Holiness.
The Gospel of grace understands our fallen nature, but we must never take the grace of God lightly. We are extended grace in Jesus Christ not to be forgiven repeatedly for our sins but to be forgiven once and for all of our debt. To be a Christian there must be a commitment to change. To be a Christian there must be an ongoing revelation of Fruit. Our lives should be a living testimony of the power of Christ to change what seemed impossible to change. It should magnify the glory and beauty of Jesus Christ. It is Christ IN us.
The love of Jesus does not condone sin, and to live in sin is to stand in opposition to the Lord, Jesus. We must have a standard. We must know what that standard is. And when we see that a brother or sister is not living a life worthy of the name of Jesus, we must address it. Not with a heart of judgment or self-righteousness, but with the heart of Christ that never left a soul to believe that they were in no need of what he came to bring them. The Gospel is one of grace, love and understanding. We will never be perfect and we will never be completely free of the sinful flesh until we are with Him and made to be like Him. But a standard still remains. The standard is THE Gospel. If we claim the name of Christ and therefore proclaim unity with the Son, we must bear the fruit of the Son. He is the standard. He is the Way. To represent Him means to reveal Him. If we are not revealing Jesus then we must question if we authentically represent Him in spirit or in name alone.
The standard of the cross is not there to loom over us, casting a long shadow of hopelessness and intimidation. The standard of the cross keeps us moving. It keeps us safe. It keeps us alive. Without the standard and without accountability to hold to the standard, we die.