“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matthew 24:36 ESV)
As the years have gone by, we contemplate the heroism displayed on September 11th, 2001 with an incredible feeling of pride, because of all the firefighters, police officers, and ordinary citizens who went above and beyond the call of duty to help their fellow Americans in a time of dire need. Faced with remarkable adversity countless stepped up; in a heroic show of brotherly love, they died struggling to save others.
“Now, we have inscribed a new memory alongside those others. It’s a memory of tragedy and shock, of loss and mourning. But not only of loss and mourning. It’s also a memory of bravery and self-sacrifice, and the love that lays down its life for a friend–even a friend whose name it never knew.” -President George W. Bush, December 11, 2001
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” -John 15:13
Many Christians find reasons not to share the Gospel. We often make excuses because we’re scared. I totally understand: giving the Gospel can be a scary thing! Why might we be afraid to share the Good News? Perhaps we don’t know how to start or what to say. Maybe we’re afraid to “mess up” the Scriptures.
In reality, though, usually our excuses are much less noble than ‘concern for God’s Word’. Usually we refuse to tell others about Christ because we don’t want to look stupid or be rejected. Simply put, we are more concerned about our reputations than sinners’ souls.
I have used almost all of these excuses at one point or another, but recently the Lord has been changing my mind. He’s been showing me how important He is and how desperately people need to hear about Him. This week I’ve been witnessing to a friend of mine, and I have realized for the first time the Benefits of sharing my faith. As I’ve been searching the Bible to answer my friend’s questions, my faith has been strengthened; I am reminding myself what I believe and why I believe it. I’ve also been a bit convicted how little of my Bible I know; searching the Scriptures for just the verse I’m looking for reminds me how crucial it is that I know my Bible thoroughly.
I won’t say that my old excuses are non-existent; in fact, they are very near to me. I am a bit nervous that I will lose my friend; I’m still kind of concerned about my reputation (unfortunately). However, by sharing God’s truth with an unbeliever, I am being faithful to God’s command. My pastor once said, “God does not call us to be successful – only to be faithful.” Even if my friend never talks to me again, she will have heard the of God’s saving grace.
We can only control our actions: will we share the Truth or not? God controls the outcome.
“Lost time is never found again.” -Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1750s.
This proverb is a convicting one. It is not exactly a command, but we can easily draw one from it. Do not waste your time. Use it wisely. Time flies by so quickly; one moment, and it is gone. It continues to rush by us in an uncontrollable river. In vain, we try to grasp it, but it slips out of our reach as it fades into past eternity.
Don’t do things you regret, for you cannot change time’s direction to get it back. It is gone.
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” -Ephesians 5:15-16
“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.” -Colossians 4:5
“What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” -James 4:14b
Most Christians want to be pure and live a life that is honoring to God. We want our minds to be clean and our hearts to be right; but our hearts are “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) If we can’t even understand our own hearts, how can we possibly keep them clean?
The answer is, we can’t – at least, not by ourselves. We need the Holy Spirit guiding us and helping us. According to Psalms 19:14, “The words of [our] mouths and the meditation of [our] hearts [should] be acceptable in [God’s] sight.” But, the world we live in is full of junk! How can we keep our hearts and minds clean? We need a filter. The Bible gives us a perfect filter. Philippians 4:8 says,
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever thing are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are just, whatever things are commendable, whatever things have a good report, if there is any excellence, and if there is any praise, think about these things.”
The way we pray can reveal what type of person we really are.
- Selfish people generally pray very little.
- Selfish people will pray for things that affect only themselves.
- Grateful people will regularly go to the Lord in prayer.
- Grateful people thank God for all the blessings He gives to them.
- Grateful people consistently pray for other people and their needs.
What type of person are you?
“To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” 1 Peter 1:1-2
I read these verses during my devotional time a few days ago, and – at first – these verses appear to be just another of Peter’s opening greetings; but if you take a closer look – and really read what Peter is saying – you’ll learn so much about God’s sovereignty over our lives and our trials.
This letter was written to the “elect exiles.” That almost seems to be a contradiction. The exiles were Jews who had been persecuted out of their homes and countries and chased all over the known world. They probably thought that God didn’t know or care about their plight. However, the word elect means “chosen specially by God”. How does that work?
Read further. Peter says that these Jews were exiled “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” God knew about His people, cared about His people and planned this for His people.
The verse also says that God was working through these struggling Jews to accomplish their sanctification. James 2:2-4 tells us that the testing of our faith produces steadfastness!
Finally, Paul encourages the exiles that through their trials they were identified with Christ. Christ told His disciples, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” (John 15:20) When we are identified with Christ in our trials, we bring glory to God!
When I’m struggling to understand ‘Why?’, I need to remember this: God chose this specific trial just for me! He has put something in my life to sanctify me and to make me more like Him.