The Seeds of Relationship

September 20, 2021 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By DiAne Gates –

SCRIPTURE: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7 NAS).

The law of the harvest is: You reap what you sow, later than you sow, and more than you sow. Americans have sown to the wind for generations and we are beginning to reap the whirlwind, just as God said we would in Hosea 8:7

Remember when we were children? All it took was that look from Mom or Dad. If we were misbehaving—we stopped. If the look showed approval—we continued. There was visual contact. Nothing between our face and their faces.

As we grew older, we didn’t have to watch Mom or Dad’s eyes to sense their approval or disapproval. We knew what their responses would be because we knew them. The more we know who God is, through the power of His Word, the more we experience living in the light of His mercy and grace, the more we understand and know Him too. There is to be nothing between His face and our face. That’s relationship.

Too many of us find ourselves trapped in the garbage heap of deception and lies that capture and suffocate, preventing us from having a clear picture of who God is and what He is doing. Deceptive clouds distort our vision and lies disable our GPS and our ability to find Him.

God created a spot, in each one of us, for His Spirit to live. Without Him that place is empty, and we can’t fill it. It’s reserved for God. Without the Spirit of God our lives are chasms where whirlwinds develop and grow. Whirlwinds that have the potential to destroy us. Forever.

I walked in rebellion to God for years. I knew about Jesus, but was attempting to work my way to goodness. But I couldn’t do it. I had no personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

When I could no longer walk the tightrope between church-y-ness and the world, God brought me to the end of myself. I knew I was a sinner. I believed Jesus died to save me. I gave my allegiance, my heart and my life to His Lordship. Then He forgave me. Redeemed and restored me and gave me what I didn’t deserve. Because of His mercy and grace.

I’m forgiven. But consequences of past rebellion remain. I couldn’t teach my children what I didn’t know. But I didn’t teach them what I knew, that the consequences of sin are like tire tracks through patches of bluebonnets.

The Texas sun coaxes these flowers to sweep the pastures and roadsides in Spring. But they also brings swarms of folks to have their pictures taken in this ocean of blue. And those tracks and prints leave a trail of destruction through the bluebonnets, just like sin treads and tramples our life and the lives of those we influence. While the field and the plants remain in the pasture, the trampled blossoms never recover and don’t produce seeds for the next generation of bluebonnets.
Sin produces the same affect in the lives of those we touch. Tire tracks of anger and footprints of rebellion are stamped into the lives of our children. They maim and destroy seeds of love, trust, and relationship before they can blossom and reseed.

God doesn’t have grandchildren, only children. The choice to accept His mercy and grace through the blood of Christ—forgiveness—is an individual’s choice.

Do you murmur over treads and tramples that sin has deposited across the pages of your life? Or have you given your heart completely to God so that He can transform the ashes of sin into a life that blooms, reseeds, and gives glory to Him?

Signs of the End Times? One World Government and Religion

September 10, 2021 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Dianne E. Butts –

Do you think the world is moving toward a one-world government? Bible verses like Daniel 2:40-44, 7:23, and Revelation 13:7-8 indicate that there will be one government over all the world in the End Times. Many Bible scholars believe this will be the Roman Empire, newly revived. The Roman Empire encompasses present-day Europe, and many believe it will dominate the world.

According to the booklet, 101 Last Days Prophecies published by Eternal Productions, “The European Union has steadily moved forward in its attempt to unite Europe politically and economically. It has succeeded in creating a European parliament, a court, and a common currency. And globalization is not unique to Europe, it is happening everywhere” (p. 4).

Where Americans once thought we were protected from what happens in Europe by a vast “pond,” September 11, 2001, pretty much erased that idea.

Prophecies also predict that in the End Times there will be one world religion. I don’t know whether most people in the world will be “forced” into one religion or if most people will voluntarily be part of this one-world religion. As if you can really force a person’s heart and mind to believe something. Actually, you can only force someone to do something physically. Either way, this End Times religion will not be focused on Truth. There is only one Truth. And Jesus is it. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). You don’t have to agree with me that Jesus is the Truth, but in the end, the truth about that will be known.

Scripture verses such as these speak of this one world religion:

“All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).

“He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed” (Revelation 13:12).

Today, as never before, we are seeing religions joining hands together citing “peace” and “tolerance.”

Do you think the “ecumenical” movement is part of this? What is “ecumenism”? According to dictionary.com it is, “the aim of unity among all Christian churches throughout the world.”

If you have not already answered this question for yourself, now would be a great time to think about it. If you were alive to see a world power forcing people into one government or one religion, which side would you take? Would you go along with those in power so as not to cause trouble or to not bring trouble upon yourself? Or are you so convinced that Jesus is the Christ, the one sent by God to take the penalty for your sins, that nothing could change your mind? Even if your life was threatened? If you’re not sure of the answer to that question, please take time to investigate His claims and decide now. Don’t wait any longer.

I’ve already investigated. I know that Jesus is the Savior, and that no one goes to the Father God in heaven except through the death of Jesus for their sins. I hope you’re with me. If you’re not yet, I hope you come with me soon.

Today, we are seeing signs that a one-world government and a one-world religion are definite possibilities forming right before our very eyes. What do you think? Could these be signs of the End Times?

A Chayil Woman

September 1, 2021 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Kathi Woodall –

Chayil.

That single Hebrew word has transformed my image of who we are, not only as wives, but as women. “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies” (Proverbs 31:10 NIV).

The Hebrew word translates to noble in the New International Version. Capable, virtuous, excellent, and worthy are also common translations. If someone used any one of these adjectives to describe us, we would take it as a compliment. The problem is that none of them fully capture the meaning of the original Hebrew word. The Hebrew word translated here as noble, virtuous and excellent is chayil (khah-yil). Even today, people of the Jewish faith refer to this passage as “Eshet Chayil,” or “A Woman of Valor.” A woman of valor is perhaps the most accurate and has become my favorite translation of this familiar passage.

The Old Testament uses chayil most often in the context of war or battle. Traditionally, the role of a man is to fight for and defend his country or his homeland. Scripture is full of stories of the Israelite men leaving their homes to go to battle; over and over it refers to them as chayil. They are the valiant warriors who crossed the Jordan to claim the Promised Land and fought alongside Joshua. They were the “elite army” of Israel who could “wage war with great power” (2 Chronicles 26:13). King David was chayil even before God chose him as king; he was “a mighty man of valor” (1 Samuel 9:1).

These are merely a sampling of the imagery behind the word chayil. Like these valiant warriors, a chayil woman fights for and defends her home. She protects it from invading negative influences and organizes those under her so that it runs smoothly and calmly. A chayil woman is strong, mighty, and efficient. She is valiant and virtuous. But, and this is a very important point, she is all of these things alongside her husband, never in opposition to him.

What is the significance of comparing to rubies? In our society, when we think of the most valuable gemstone, we immediately think of diamonds. But, just as our society doesn’t recognize the value of a good wife, neither does it recognize the value of a ruby. According to a jeweler friend of mine, a ruby of gemstone quality can be worth more than a diamond of the same size, and it is definitely rarer.

A good marriage has many balancing factors. One of them is a valiant, chayil woman for a wife and a husband who recognizes and respects that quality in her. Then, a powerful, beautiful marriage can be built that is worthy of being compared to the future marriage relationship between Christ and His bride, the church.

Like a flawless ruby, do you view yourself as being of inestimable value? If you don’t view yourself that way, will you accept that you are and begin to ask God to reveal the jewel He created you to be?

Life Interrupted

August 24, 2021 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Alan Mowbray –

It was a long day at work—ten hours. Arriving home, I discovered things in a shambles. Dinner not started. Dishes not done. And my wife still working feverishly in her office to satisfy a deadline commitment. There was a time when I would have just said, “Let’s go out for dinner.” But in today’s economy, that kind of attitude can add up quickly in the financial column.

Now, although I had other plans for the evening, there was an obvious need. My kids were hungry. My wife was on track workwise, but needed a domestic assist. My dream of a relaxing night after a hard day’s work kicked to the curb.

Kaput.

Interrupted.

Sad story. Stuck in a rut and can’t get out of it, right?

Some might say that, but they’d be wrong. Sure, I cooked dinner, did the dishes, drove the kids to dance and football practice and whatever else needed to be done. My little hour or two of quiet bliss was gone. But a wonderful thing happened. I demonstrated love. I demonstrated honor. This interruption was an opportunity to fulfill a need. The lost quiet bliss was forgotten, but in its place, love, honor, and happiness shone brightly and the evening turned out to be great, peacefully chaotic, and full of family. Perfect.

If you take a few seconds to think about it, the life of Jesus was full of interruptions. That Samaritan woman at the well, blind Bartimaeus, a Roman centurion, the woman with the issue of blood. In fact, you have to think hard to come up with a miracle that Jesus performed that was a premeditated event.

The easiest way to say it is He was available for interruption at any moment. He lived his life in interrupted mode. Not that He spent his day waiting for these opportunities to occur, but rather, that He went on with life, and stopped whatever He was doing at the time to minister to the one in need. He understood what we all need to realize. We are here to live a Life Interrupted.

Take a moment to look back at the last week and think about opportunities when you could have stopped and assisted or talked to someone right then and there, but instead, you put it off, scheduled it for a more convenient time, or just ignored the need.
Because you had other plans.

Look back a little further and take stock of whether previous plans you had and followed through with were as important as that person’s immediate need.

I’m just going to say it. We as Christians are a very inflexible people. Because of this, small groups are never started, church seats remain empty, and young boys and girls go without fatherly and, in some cases, motherly mentors. Hundreds of other functions of the church body are neglected.

The problem is not the world, my friends. The problem is that we, the church, need to loosen up a bit and stop being so rigid. Knowing the Bible isn’t enough. Applying it to life is where things get done.

So, be available.
Get a little dirty.
Smile.

Before you know it, your life will be full of God’s love working through you.

Before you know it, you, too will be living a Life Interrupted.

How Effective is Gospel Tract Saturation?

August 18, 2021 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Jennifer Slattery –

Hyper-Calvinism says all we need to do is share the gospel, share the gospel, share the gospel and zap, the Holy Spirit reaches down and brings man to salvation. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s some truth to that in that apart from the working of the Holy Spirit, man cannot come to Christ. However, this approach, what I like to term gospel tract saturation, fails to take into account human reasoning. And a great deal of the Bible.

I believe the Holy Spirit works in conjunction with the intellect, penetrating through the darkness that keeps man in rebellion against God while illuminating truth. Belief is assent at a heart and intellectual level. Taking both aspects into account strengthens our message.

Effective evangelism occurs in relationship

Dropping a gospel tract at countless doorsteps won’t cut it. Oh, sure, perhaps five percent of those visited might make a confession of faith, but likely because someone already laid the groundwork, and you just happened to be there to reap the harvest.

Notice Jesus’ instructions to the disciples when He sent them out in Luke 9:4

Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town.

When they reached a new village, they were to stay in one house. I believe this was to establish community. Perhaps we need to spend as much time relationship building as we do proclaiming.

Effective evangelism adapts to the listener

One of my favorite examples of this is in Acts 17. When speaking to the Romans, Paul reasoned with them, displaying the coherency of God.

“While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there” (Acts 17:16-17 NIV).

And notice what God says in Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (NIV © 1984).

Throughout Scripture, we see the Holy Spirit working through human logic. This is not to say the gospel message is adapted, but instead, how it is presented is. To be effective, we must take time to learn the unique barriers to faith held by each individual so we can prayerfully and patiently address those barriers.

Effective Evangelism Takes the Time to Understand Their Audience

Notice the passage in Acts. When Paul entered the city, he observed the culture of the people around Him. He noticed their idols–their barriers to faith–then addressed those barriers in his message, demonstrating the superiority of the gospel message.

Have you ever talked with someone and felt like they didn’t hear a word you said? Or asked a question only to have them provide an irrelevant answer? Does it make you want to hear more or walk away?

Effective evangelism speaks with humility

No one wants to feel stupid. No one wants to be cajoled into faith. Truly, most people want to feel as if they’ve arrived at the conclusion themselves. Our goal then is to gently guide our listener or reader into discovery, asking thought provoking questions and pointing them to the truth of Scripture. In essence, we walk beside them, ever alert to their pace and committed to the journey regardless of how long it takes.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you agree or disagree? What are some effective ways you believe to reach others for Christ?

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