Are you letting your past prevent someone from hearing the Gospel?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow many people would never have been drawn to Christ if the woman at the well thought she was unworthy to tell others about Jesus? If she had let her reputation and all the idle gossip make her afraid to stand up as a new woman of faith?

Who would have never trusted in the Gospel if Zacchaeus had been too ashamed about his past to let Jesus join him for lunch?

If Peter had given up after his three denials?

If Paul had obsessed over participating in Stephen’s stoning?

If David had stopped writing Psalms after being confronted with adultery?

If Timothy and Abraham remained convinced that their ages made them unusable?

Some of these saints may be part of your spiritual heritage, your faith “DNA.” They may have led some who led others, who led others, who led others, who led you. Be thankful that they did not let their past and weaknesses prevent them from sharing.

Now, how many people can hear the Good News if you cast your past and weaknesses before the Throne and allow God to work through you?

“I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,” declares the Lord Almighty. (Hag. 2:23)

Is God really first in your life?

How long would you keep your job if you were as faithful to your employer as you are to JesusIs God really first in your life?

How long would you get to keep your job if you showed the same commitment to your career that you show to Christ? If you attended when you felt like it, if you chipped in when it was convenient, if you gave only your leftovers?

How many followers would you have on social media if you gave the same attention to being winsome and earnest and attractive there that you give to draw people to Jesus?

How many friends would you have if you put the same amount of effort into those relationships as you put into your relationship with God?

Don’t get me wrong. Being a Christian is not a job, and we do not work for God’s favor. God loves us in spite of our efforts, which is an act of pure grace on His part, because our best efforts would fall far short. But while we do not earn God’s love, if we understand God’s love, we just can’t help but respond in kind, by keeping his commandments, committing to His church, and loving His children. So compare your response to God’s gift to your efforts and other areas of your life, and consider whether He really is first for you.

I tell you, I’m glad that Jesus didn’t have our level of commitment and decide that the whole crucifixion thing was just something he’d rather not do. I’m glad the apostles who took the news of the resurrection into the nations didn’t decide that it was embarrassing to live out their faith, or that they were more concerned with making a living. I’m glad Paul, who took the Gospel to the gentiles and converted our ancestors, didn’t decide that it was too hard, or that he’d rather sleep in. And I’m glad my Mom didn’t decide that on rainy days, or time change Sunday, or the day after a late game, it was just too hard to get the kids the church. Too often, though, our every-other-Sunday, leftover-giving commitment is what passes for “faithfulness” in the church today.

Now turn those questions from the beginning of this post around. What if you started being just as diligent to Jesus as you are to your job? It wouldn’t make Him love you any more abundantly, because He already loves you to infinity, but imagine what God could do through you if you made the same effort to show up for God as you do to show up for work? If you put as much into making disciples as you put into collecting Facebook followers? If you nurtured your relationship with Him as much as you do your most precious friendships?

What if we began to truly put Him first in every area of our lives?

In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. (Luke 14:33)

He is risen!

James Tissot: Mary Magdalena and the Holy Women at the Tomb

The resurrection is hope. It is a bright light that cannot be extinguished no matter how dark your circumstances. It verifies where we came from, promises where we are going, and gives meaning to what we are to do in between. It gives … [Continue reading]

Palm Sunday: Following the crowd

James Tissot: The Procession in the Streets of Jerusalem

Did you shout "Hosanna" on Palm Sunday? Good for you. But what are you going to say on Friday? It's easy to praise God when the crowd is doing the same. When it isn't Palm Sunday, though, and the crowds are calling for a crucifixion, what will you … [Continue reading]

What does it mean to be a man after God’s own heart?

people look at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart

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Where is your hope?

but i will hope continually.psalm 71-14

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What do you bring to Jesus?

The first recorded gifts to the incarnate Word were gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The Bible treats the wise men well for these gifts, because they were gifts of worship. (They certainly weren’t practical gifts. What can a baby do with gold? I’ve … [Continue reading]

Parenthood teaches us about God’s love

Sometimes it’s hard to believe God could ever love us. He knows what lies behind the mask. He knows all the secret thoughts and motives. All the times I’ve failed him, denied him, put others before him, or thought terrible things about his … [Continue reading]

American Sniper: We like it because it doesn’t make fun of us

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Our family saw American Sniper during its opening week, and I have been thinking since then about why the movie resonates with such a large audience. We saw it in a packed house, and the best evidence of its impact was the total silence at the end of … [Continue reading]

Your small group Bible study needs you

and let us consider how to stir up one another

Your small group Bible Study needs you. Whether it's a Sunday morning class or a weeknight men’s group, we need your regular attendance. And regular does not mean 25-50% of the time, which seems perfectly acceptable to most people these days. I … [Continue reading]