The Shining 

Daniel 12:3
“Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.“

As the book of Daniel comes to a close, he receives details regarding the days leading up to the return of Christ and His future reign. Knowing the time is short, he speaks of those who will turn others to the Lord. As time ticks away and the return of Christ becomes closer, it is the duty, and should be the passion, of every believer to win others to Christ.

A few years ago, a good friend of mine was praying regarding the missions work his church was contemplating. As he prayed, and looked over a map of the region of the world they were considering, he sensed the Lord was telling him to do as much as he could, as fast as he could. That message became the driving force behind multiple missions trips, out reaches, church plants and humanitarian endeavors. I think each of us would do well to apply that same principle to our Christian lives. We should seek to do as much as we can, as fast as we can. Paul put it like this,

Romans 13:11 “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.”

As we approach the Christmas season, we will more than likely have contact with people we do not get to encounter on a daily basis. For some that will include family members, as well as chance encounters with strangers in shopping malls and the like. Let’s pray we will be given the opportunity to invite them to church, or to be able to share with them the love of Christ.

Let’s be those who shine like the brightness of the firmament.

Pastor Jim

 

Qualified

2 Corinthians 11:23
Are they ministers of Christ? —I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.”

Part of the reason for writing this letter, was Paul’s authority as an apostle was being challenged. When he came to Corinth, Paul chose not to receive a salary from the Corinthian church, instead he worked with his hands, and received support from the churches in Macedonia. He also chose not to use his great intellect or skills as an orator to persuade the people, but resolved to emphasize the simplicity of Christ, and relied upon the work of the Holy Spirit. As a result, after his departure, many ridiculed him and his teaching, calling his authority into question. Rather than responding to the criticism by referring to the seminary degree, the books he had written, or churches he started, Paul reminds them of the difficulties he faced in order to bring the Gospel to a lost world. This passage was admittedly difficult for the Apostle to write. He was not one who derived pleasure from boasting of his own accomplishments. As difficult as it may have been, I am glad he wrote it. For it reveals the hardships he was willing to endure for others to come to Christ.

“. . . In labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.”

Notice the short list of Paul’s experiences: labors, stripes, prisons and death. In addition, he speaks in great length of perils and shipwrecks. To sum up, Paul was willing to endure great opposition in order to see others come to saving faith in Christ. Not every time Paul shared Christ was he met with beating, prison or threats of death. Albeit, even during those times, he was willing to invest the Gospel in the ears of others. He speaks of the difficulty of travel. The Jewish people were not known for being seafaring. In fact, it could be said of many, that they hated ocean travel. Paul was willing to set aside his fear of travel to bring Christ to others. He traveled to difficult places. He speaks of “peril”. This peril was due to the fact that not every road he took, or destination at which he arrived, was safe. Yet, he pressed on to bring Christ to a dying world.

Whether he faced threats, beatings or prison, Paul was willing to open His mouth to invite others to Christ. What are you willing to endure to see others come to Christ? Rather than living in the realm of theory, take a few moments to look back over the last few months and ask “What have I endured to invite others to Christ?” Perhaps today is the day to step out and take some risks for the Kingdom.

Pastor Jim

 

Evangelism

Mark 2:3
“Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men.”

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There are so many fascinating aspects to this story: the crowd that gathered to listen to Jesus teach the Word, the healing of the paralytic, the fact that Jesus put a higher priority on the man’s spiritual condition, than upon his physical suffering, and the claim and proof that Jesus is God. All are worth noting and taking time for more careful observation. However, in the midst of all of that, it might be easy to look past one of the most important lessons in this text. Did you notice the actions of those who brought the paralytic? The effort these men went through in order to bring this man to Christ really struck me.

First, notice the value they put upon Jesus; they would seek to bring others to Him. They must have truly believed that the most important thing for this man was an encounter with Christ.

Second, notice the value they placed upon the man; they would risk missing out on getting a good seat, to carry him to Jesus. Keep in mind, in ancient times, a paralytic would have very little chance of doing anything but beg. In some cases, it was thought illness was attributed to sin, causing some to think that perhaps he deserved this condition. Certainly, there was no monetary or social benefit gained by associating with this man. Instead, the four men simply knew a man who was in need of Jesus, and they did whatever they could to get him there.

Third, notice they would not let any obstacle get in their way. When they arrived at the house, there seemed to be no way in; yet these men found a way. We are not told how, but they found a way to get up on the roof, they found a way to hoist the paralytic up with them, and they began to tear off the roofing, in order to get the man to Christ. This becomes even more striking when we realize it was not their house. They were taking a huge risk. To them, the cost was not greater than the prize of getting this man to Christ.

Finally, notice they did not complain when Jesus responded differently than they expected. Jesus was more interested in the man’s spiritual condition, than his physical suffering. This upset the religious leaders, but we hear no complaint from the four men. It is as though they understood that Jesus knew what was best for the paralytic, and they trusted the man into the care of Christ.

As a result of the actions of these four men, one individual had his life changed. He was healed, but more importantly, he was saved. I think we can learn a lot from the actions of these men. I think we need to put a greater value upon Christ, and upon each and every person, and be willing to risk more to bring people to hear about Jesus. Perhaps now would be a good time to pray for some of your friends who don’t know Christ.

Pastor Jim