A Call to Crucifixion

An encouraging article today that was too good not to share. I love this: “In summary, the following pattern will be observed in the life and ministry of virtually every believer. First, the triumphal entry – the initial excitement and joy of coming to Christ and being called by Him to some aspect of ministry or mission. Next, the crucifixion – total surrender and the refining fire of obstacles and opposition. Then, the resurrection – tremendous blessing and victory for those who faithfully serve Jesus Christ.”

In Christ,
Naomi

Living Truth for Today

“Whoever loses his life for My sake will find it .” Matthew 16:25

By Bill Rudge

What do coming to Christ and a call to ministry have in common with the triumphal entry, the crucifixion and the resurrection?

When someone gives their life to Jesus Christ there is usually great excitement. There is also incredible joy when someone is called by the Lord to go on the mission field or begin a ministry – work with youth, lead a Bible study, do street ministry, start a prison outreach and so on.

The people rejoiced at Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on what we commemorate as Palm Sunday. They were confident of the impending blessing and victory over their enemies. They anticipated going right from the triumphal entry to the establishment of the messianic kingdom. However, something unexpected – even though Jesus foretold it several times – followed shortly after the…

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The Sword

A timely reminder from Eliza on what truly brings light to the world…apologetics may open the door to faith but it is the Word of God alone that convicts souls and saves.

holdingforthhisword

Many times in our walk with Christ we will find that our faith in Jesus Christ is challenged by either unbelievers or false brethren/false teachers.  The only opportunity that we have for coming against such challenges is to present the Scriptures to rebuke, refute, warn and convict those who oppose God and His truth.  It is good to look at the Scripture passages that support this godly conviction about the Word of God as our weapon of warfare against Satan and his evildoers.  The best place to start is in the book of Ephesians the sixth chapter.

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against…

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How to Witness to a Jewish Person (and other things Christians screw up royally)

A very funny and touching post from my Jewish sister in Christ, Melissa Presser.

I wanted to share tips on Gentiles witnessing to Jewish people as this seems to be a neglected outreach in many churches today.

God bless you for reading, enjoy. 🙂

What a friend we have in Jesus

The Lord kindly brought this old hymn to mind while I was sitting at work feeling a little down. It made me smile and was a comfort. I hope it blesses you too:

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
There will be no need for prayer—
Rapture, praise, and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there.

(Joseph M. Scriven, 1855)

What are your spiritual gifts?

Inspired by Don Merritt’s recent postings on spiritual gifts (see http://lifereference.wordpress.com/), I took an online test to determine my spiritual gifts from a helpful website called SpiritualGiftsTest.com.

The test itself (for adults), which is happily free, can be found at:
http://www.spiritualgiftstest.com/test/adult

What were the results? Interestingly enough, my highest scores were for:

  1. Knowledge (ie. loves the scriptures, connects the gospel to everyday life)
  2. Teaching (ie. studies the bible regularly, loves to explain the truth)
  3. Giving (ie. good steward, cheerfully and joyfully gives).

May I encourage you to take the test if you haven’t already determined what your spiritual gifts are! It’s an interesting, edifying, and humbling experience. I say “humbling” because I discovered today that I score quite low on the gifts of mercy and evangelism, which was not what I might have hoped for as a follower of Christ. Thankfully I’m just one member of the body of Christ so can be confident that there are others who are stronger in these areas who make up for my shortfall.

Some helpful points from the FAQ section of this website on spiritual gifts:

What is a Spiritual Gift?
A spiritual gift is a supernatural ability given by the Holy Spirit to a person when they are saved.

How many spiritual gifts are there?
There is no complete list of spiritual gifts found in any single book of the Bible. Thus, we cannot conclude that what we have is an exhaustive list or that the Spirit of God has not given other gifts to the church. We do not want to limit God’s ability to give more gifts, He most certainly has, but we must be cautious when calling an ability a spiritual gift if it is not found in Scripture. SpiritualGiftsTest.com operates within the framework that there are likely many other spiritual gifts that have been given, but they should all connect categorically to those that are found in Scripture. For instance, a “gift of songwriting” could connect with the categories of exhortation, or evangelism, or a “gift of cooking” could be a form of the gift of serving and ministering.

We find lists totaling nineteen spiritual gifts in three different passages: Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4. There are other important passages as well. Paul seems to speak of singleness or celibacy as being a gift from God in 1 Corinthians 7, and some have also considered marriage as a gift in the context of this passage. Spiritual gifts are further mentioned in 1 Peter 4 which addresses the speaking and serving gifts in a general sense. As a note, we have listed and described the nineteen major gifts on our site, but we do not include all of them in our tests. We have excluded tongues and interpretation, miracles, and healing. The reason for this decision is that these are difficult to test for, and should be self-evident within the context of the local church body.

Who gives the spiritual gifts?
We see in the Scriptures that since the day of Pentecost The Holy Spirit has given each believer one or more spiritual gifts to serve God and His people. This is obviously why they are called “spiritual” gifts. However, in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, we also see that the full Trinity is involved with spiritual gifts. And in Ephesians 4:7 we see that Christ gave gifts when He ascended in celebration of His triumph over sin on the cross and over death in His resurrection. Therefore, we can conclude that God distributes spiritual gifts by His Holy Spirit, but the Triune God is at work together in giving and empowering them. See Ephesians 4:7-13, 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, Hebrews 2:4

What is the purpose of the spiritual gifts?
The purpose of spiritual gifts is to glorify Jesus by testifying of Him and building up His church until He returns. A major part of this is accomplished by using our gifts to serve in love, and by bearing much fruit that lasts. See Romans 11:36, Colossians 1:16, Revelation 4:11, Ephesians 4:11-13, 1 Corinthians 1:7; 1 Peter 4:10; John 16:13-14 and John 15:8.

How many gifts do I have?
Each Christian has at least one spiritual gift given to them when they are saved. Some receive more depending upon God’s will and calling in their lives. See Ephesians 4:7, I Corinthians 12:7, 11, I Corinthians 7:7, I Peter 4:10

What gifts do I have?
Only God knows – just kidding. We have developed a Spiritual Gifts Test to help you figure this one out. When you are done with the test, ask other Christians in your church or community that you know and trust to help you in discovering them. We also suggest serving in different areas and in different capacities in the church to figure out how you can best use those gifts to glorify God.

Does anyone have all of the spiritual gifts?
Nope! Each believer is given a gift or gifts according to the will of God, but no one has all of the spiritual gifts and no single gift is given to everyone. See 1 Corinthians 12:29-30, 1 Corinthians 7:7

How do I use my gifts?
The Bible tells us to use our gifts in love and in service to others. Every church needs believers with all kinds of gifts to serve and build up the body of Christ. We suggest you start by contacting someone in your church to find out where you can serve. Check out 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 and 1 Peter 4:10.

What is the difference between a talent and a spiritual gift?
A talent is a natural ability or aptitude given by God to a person at birth. A spiritual gift is a supernatural ability given by God at rebirth. A talent can be anything from athletic ability to musical aptitude to artistic genius. God allows a person to use his or her talents for many different purposes and in many different capacities. When it comes to spiritual gifts, God opens up the ability of a person to be used by The Lord purposely and directly in His work. A spiritual gift can spring from a natural talent, or it can be a completely new ability that is “out of the ordinary” for that person. The main point is this: All talents and spiritual gifts come from God. He can use talents and spiritual gifts to fulfill His purposes and bring Himself glory. The main difference between the two is that only Christians receive spiritual gifts because only Christians have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. As a believer in Christ, you are called to use your talents and your spiritual gifts for the glory of God.

Why don’t you test for every gift?
You may have noticed that we do not test for the spiritual gift of tongues or interpretation, as well as the spiritual gifts of healing and miracles. These four gifts are very difficult to test for in a conventional way. Merely asking a set of questions will probably not lead a person to discovering these gifts (i.e. “Have you performed a miracle?”). It typically takes exercising and experiencing them and receiving confirmation through the Holy Spirit and from other Christians to validate or confirm that a person has these gifts.

The absence of these gifts from our tests is not an indication or affirmation that we believe they have ceased. The opposite is true. We believe that the Holy Spirit distributes and empowers believers with all of the gifts as He wills (1 Corinthians 12:11). All spiritual gifts are meant for the edification of the church until Christ returns (1 Corinthians 1:4-7, Ephesians 4:11-13).

A person of prayer

Peaceful scene Months ago, Pastor Frank  said we should say to ourselves, “By the grace of God I will be a person of prayer.” At the time I knew my prayer life was sadly lacking but the Lord has since helped me to grow in this area and to see prayer as an essential work of faith. Prayer is in fact part of the Great Commission Jesus gave us in the book of Matthew:

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19-21)

Prayer is a way of believing people cooperating with God’s will to draw as many people as possible to salvation. Without the love and support of fellow Christians, however, I wouldn’t be growing at all in this area. I have found National Prayer Bank, a place where believers in Christ can pray for others and post up their own prayer requests, to be invaluable in this regard. The messages of encouragement and prayer that I have received from others have been a great source of comfort, especially when ministering to and praying for unsaved loved ones. Here then for your benefit is the link to this prayer site: http://nationalprayerbank.com/ Another wonderful site featuring Spirit-lead prayers for others is the Acts 12 Movement site, which I first heard about from a fellow Christian blogger, Levi Thetford (http://levithetford.com/): http://acts12movement.com/ May you find these sites a blessing too. What prayer resources or techniques have you found helpful in your Christian walk? Feel free to post about them here. Until next time, Lord willing.

Christian Book Review – @stickyJesus: How to Live Out Your Faith Online

I’ve been reading an enlightening book about sharing faith in Christ online. I wanted to share the following passage as it’s inspiring for those of us who blog and use other means to tell our stories online:

http://www.amazon.com/stickyJesus-Live-Your-Faith-Online/dp/1426741898

40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
(Acts 2:40-41)

Simply through hearing, more than three thousand people confessed Christ that day. The disciples didn’t form a committee, write a communication plan, or hold a big conference (complete with a worship band) to figure out how to share the most incredible message in the world.

They told the crowd who Jesus was and how everyone within earshot could receive forgiveness, salvation, and the same Holy Spirit power that had lit up all of them. They walked onto the dusty streets of Jerusalem with believing hearts and the willingness to be consumed with and led by the Holy Spirit.

God could have done this without the disciples. Supernatural is supernatural. He could have let loose a light show on the streets of Jerusalem that day that would have left the masses speechless. But He loved us too much to leave us out of His story and His glory. He was and is a God of relationship, love, and community. He wants to raise His kids by experiental relationship, not dead religion.

The same holds true today. God doesn’t need you to share your faith to save the world. There’s no cape required. He’s almighty. He can touch any heart at any moment, anywhere, in any way He chooses. The glory and gift of this holy equation are that He has called you. He’s called you out of your stunted, insular self and into a limitless and vast relationship with Him. He will do a holy work in you and others each time you recount that story. Now that’s a transformational mission worth logging on for.