Can I Get a Testimony Today?

Proverbs 3:27-28
“Do not hold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so. Do not say to your neighbor “Go , and come back and tomorrow I will give it,” when you have it with you.

When I was working at a diner as a waiter, I felt compelled to share the Gospel with two of my coworkers. Despite being compelled, I thought speaking the Gospel to them can happen during another time; Perhaps there will be a better time to evangelize. All of the sudden, this scripture came to my mind. I realized my testimony, who God is in my life and what He has and continues to do, is truly the only good thing in our world. I should not feel compelled to withhold the Gospel message from anyone. This scripture in Proverbs taught me to not let my thought processes suggest I withhold what Christ has done for me. I think this scripture teaches us to not prolong evangelization. Why should I talk about Jesus tomorrow when I can talk about Him today?

Grace and Peace,
JM

Hospital

In this world we will encounter many who need help. Jesus once spoke of a man, a Good Samaritan. The religious elite of the day had passed by a man who had been deeply hurt and did not stop to help. One man considered an outcast stopped and did the right thing. The Good Samaritan gave from every resource he had to help the man on the side of the road. James says that pure and undefiled religion is to go to the widow and the orphan in distress, and to walk unstained from this world. Body of Christ, how important it is that we would be an extension of Gods healing to our generation. With every generation that passes evil will increase, yet it is the Churches responsibility to wage war against this evil. We will not fight evil with evil, but we will do good, and allow the Lord to be our Vindicator. We as the Church must seek to heal the brokenhearted. We must give everything that God has given us to see someone restored. We must be like Christ. Christ did not count equality with God something to be grasped and died on the Cross for this earth’s redemption. Christ lives in us. We are the Holy Spirits temple. We are ambassadors of Christ. Will we bring the healing of God to our workplaces? Will we bring the healing of God to our churches? Will we bring the healing of God to our homes? I wish I was writing to you from a place of perfection, I am afraid that I won’t be there until Christ returns or I go to heaven. Christ is not asking for our perfection in this venture, He is asking for our hearts. That is all He needs. That is all this world needs to know that there is healing in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Bold as Lions

Proverbs 28:1 The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion. (Prov. 28:1 ESV)
And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness,
30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:29-31 ESV)
In the face of threats, the promise of Proverbs 28 can seem a bit unrealistic. We must not forget that the righteous have an inheritance. Our inheritance is in Christ, the Holy Spirit is the seal of our salvation bearing witness to Christ in us. The people of God have always been known to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Let us not forget that Gods will is so many times accomplished through our prayers. If our prayer is God give us boldness in the face of threats too glorify your Name, then we can be assured that He will give us Power to do so. Sometimes the threats of our friends, coworkers, media etc. can threaten to shut up Gods work in us. All we must do is simply ask that the Lords will be done in our lives, and He will fill us with His Power too do that which He wills. The promise of boldness is not kept by us, but by the Holy Spirit. Let us not feel the pressure to live up to God but let us let God enliven us. Let us allow Gods life to flow through our earthen vessels. The life of a martyr is one who has died to the old man, and now lives a new life empowered by God. The people of God will not function under the law any longer. We will not work up a boldness that does not exist in us. We will confess our shortcomings to God and watch as His Spirit empowers us to be bold. You will be filled with boldness, as you lean on God. God is not only the promise giver, but the promise keeper, He is Faithful.

The Prison: First Day

Me and my friend found ourselves thrown into a prison cell. We were courageous and knew that we could handle the situation we were in, but it was still our first day. We were prisoners of war, we knew that we were called to endure things that other men could not endure. This helped us deal with what we faced our first day.
The cell was dark and musky, dirt floors and dirt walls. It seems to almost have been a cellar. There was some light from the entrance to see a shirtless prisoner, whose frame seemed a bit skinny. Immediately we knew that this man had been here awhile and anything he told us we were going to glean from what he shared.
I quickly looked down at my leg and saw what I had written on it. It was a map of the world that discussed my plans. I knew that if the guards saw this, being my enemies, they would use this as one more excuse to treat me even more harshly then they already had. I immediately started looking at the ground for a rock to scrape my leg with. I found a nice flat one that could do the job. I began to scrape, and it was working. I scraped until my whole identity and purpose that I knew about myself was wiped away so that the enemy would not taunt me even more.
As I was doing this in the corner of my eye I saw a mouse that landed opposite of where I was sitting. Looking up to my friend and the experienced prisoner of war, he signaled that this was food for the day. He courageously grabbed it. I knew that although I feared mouse and hated them, I had to do things I thought I never would to survive. He grabbed the mouse and began to prepare it to eat. I can’t begin to tell you how nasty it was. There was no place to cook it, we were all dirty. We were all no different than that nasty mouse. It was not only dirty physically, but it reminded us of the sort of situation that we were in. Yet, we had resolve, so we partook.
Then the pressure really began to build as our cell door was opened and we were rushed out. Me and my friend knew what was coming, we would be tortured. We soon found out that torture was a regular part of every prisoner of wars day. I had a moment to whisper, ‘Let’s just take it like men.’ After all we were soldiers with a resolve too survive and fight for our lives. We were marched into a room in the middle of the compound. It was once again nasty and dark. Two figures met us inside the room. One was a heavier set guy who didn’t seem to be interested in the fact that we were there, yet we knew he was part of the team that tortured men. The other man snickered when he saw us, happy to know that we would be hurting that day. The room was also riddled with torture machines. I hoped that we wouldn’t have to go through any of those yet was ready if that was on the menu for the day. I looked at the man who had snickered with resolve, just to let him know that he could hurt me physically, but I still had life in me that he could not take away. To my relief none of the torturing implements were on the menu.
What happened next is not my fondest memory. As part of a psychological technique I was basically forced to beat my friend with a stick. I knew by the eye contact that we had made that he understood, we were going to be ok. I beat him till he was bloodied and then I was beaten just as bad. We thought that was it, and the guards could see the relief in us that it was over. But then they sat us down and splashed boiling water over us as they laughed. We screamed because our open wounds were being met with boiling water.
Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor;1 he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;2
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, band the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;
3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion– to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.1
4 They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.
5 Strangers shall stand and tend your flocks; foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers;
6 but you shall be called the priests of the LORD; they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God; you shall eat the wealth of the nations, and in their glory you shall boast.
7 Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.
8 For I the LORD love justice; I hate robbery and wrong;1 I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their offspring shall be known among the nations, and their descendants in the midst of the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are an offspring the LORD has blessed.
10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations. (Isa. 61:1-11 ESV)

Dwell on What God Has Done.

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy- meditate on these things (NKJV).” -Philippians 4:8
“Meditate on these things.”
I had devoted three months to a summer camp ministry and during the third month, I began to feel downcast because I was dwelling on the incidents which made my job at camp frustrating. Somewhere around that time, I had read an article which reported people having the tendency to remember the negative, unhappy, and adverse things they had experienced. I thought to myself this is something that I unknowingly do sometimes. As I reflected on this article, Philippians 4:8 came immediately to my mind. When I recalled this verse, I remembered the kids I had prayed with, problems I had listened to, talking to them about Jesus, playing with them, challenging them, and encouraging them. This scripture reminds me that God has given us the power over experiences that can negatively affect us. God was reminding me to meditate on what He has done; He was telling me to meditate on the noble, pure, lovely, and good things He had done at camp. As it says in Psalms 103:2, we should not forget what the Lord has done for us.

Grace and Peace,

JM

Authority Pt. 2

And it came about on one of the days while He was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted Him,
2 and they spoke, saying to Him, “Tell us by what authority You are doing these things, or who is the one who gave You this authority?”
3 And He answered and said to them, “I shall also ask you a question, and you tell Me:
4 “Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?”
5 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’
6 “But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.”
7 And they answered that they did not know where it came from.
8 And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (Lk. 20:1-8 NAS)
How did the Lord, handle His authority being challenged by mere unbelieving men?
Elsewhere, in the gospels Jesus mentions to His disciples that they would be persecuted and ridiculed just as He was, but one way he told them to carry themselves during these situations, was ‘gentle as doves, wise as serpents.’ This was not a command, He was not willing to obey. Here we see that Jesus behaved in this way. When accused of working by an authority that was not Gods by the men who ran the religious scene of the time; when being questioned not sincerely but to trap him and have him arrested, Jesus did not throw a temper tantrum. Neither was his pride insulted, his identity was in God and from God, and man’s rejection did not affect Him. He reacted gently. Though, these men who questioned Him, sought to trap Jesus into an incorrect answer that would get him into trouble, Jesus flipped it all on them by asking them a question. In this way, he behaved wisely. He knew that the people believed that John the Baptist was a prophet from God that was an ally of Jesus, therefore if His authority was from God then Christ was also from God. If they said his authority came from man, they would lose favor with the people. Jesus put them in a place through His question, where the argument was over, and the evil of their heart was put on display.
In like manner our authority will be challenged. As we begin to preach Christ at our jobs, supermarkets, and amongst family we will experience the same type of questions people experienced. People will say, ‘I don’t believe in God, He never answered my prayers.’ ‘How can you say the Bible is totally correct and has no errors?’ ‘Jesus could not have been fully God and fully man that is impossible!’ These are the taunts against our faith that we have to hear when we begin to walk in our authority in Christ that He has given us. When we see these challenges, we should not be afraid or surprised, the Bible makes it clear, if Jesus authority was challenged so will ours. We are to meet these types of people in love, gentle as doves, wise as serpents.
You might be nervous to begin to act on the authority Christ has given you because of fear of man and rejection. Let me first address that we need not fear the rejection of man, because we are wholly accepted in God. If He accepts us then the rejection of man is not in alignment with Gods will, and we know that what God says triumphs over what the world says. Also, we need not fear the challenge of man because we have been given everything we need to face these challenges.
Let us break it down, ‘gentle as doves, wise as serpents’ is how we are to meet those who challenge the authority of God. Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit, meaning that it is a natural by product of our walk with God. Like me, you might find yourself not being gentle at times. We are fallen human beings and are susceptible to temptation. Yet, we know we have been made new creations, new gentle creations. So, the first thing we do is address our rude or impatient actions with the truth that we as new creations bear gentleness. We begin to view ourselves and to think of ourselves as one who has undergone a new birth. The second thing we do is that we begin to immerse ourselves in the truth of the Scriptures that remind us of who the Lord is, a living word that changes us and empowers us to be more like Christ. It is the word of God, and the word of God has power for those who believe in it. The more we begin to meditate on the truths of it, the more we will find ourselves ready too obey its commands. Secondly, we immerse ourselves into a constant place of fellowship with God. When we allow the Spirit too consistently bring within us a prayer, an intercession, a hope, a verse, a truth as we meditate on the word of God we will find ourselves consistently empowered too be gentle as doves, wise as serpents. The Bible calls us to put on the mind of Christ, to do this, we must get to know the Christ that it talks about on a regular basis. When we put on His mind, as we walk in intimacy with Him, the Spirit Himself will cause us to be gentle as doves, wise as serpents. Can I put it a bit more simply, our role is to walk committed to fellowship with God and as we fellowship with Him the Spirit that empowers us to have fellowship with God will empower us to answer the enemies of the Cross in a gentle and wise way.
This text in Luke 20 finishes up by stating that these men who questioned him in the end marveled at the way he answered them and dared not to ask anymore questions because they knew it would only result in their defeat. In this same manner we can walk in our authority, because of fellowship and obedience to God in a way that shocks our generation and brings people to repentance and the saving knowledge of Christ. It is all about Gods faithfulness, being worked through our lives, may all praise go to Him.

Authority

29 for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes. (Matt. 7:29 NAS)
18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of call the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you 1always, even to the end of the age.”
(Matt. 28:18-20 NAS)
And having summoned His twelve disciples, He gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. (Matt. 10:1 NAS)

In the days of Christ, the Rabbis, the teachers of Yahweh relied on the authority of men to discourse the truths of God and the interpretation of Scripture. Among them, rose a teacher who was not concerned about the synagogue, as much as he was concerned as He called them, ‘the lost sheep of Israel.’ He was not concerned about racial boundaries, in fact he found himself ministering to Samaritans who were not liked then in society, by main land Israel. He was not concerned about being seen with those who had been negatively labeled by society. In fact, He touched the lepers, a societal ‘no, no’ because of the religious stipulation that they were unclean, and for basic hygienic reasons. But, our Lord not only touched them, He healed them. On that note, one of his closest followers was a tax collector. Then that really was not good, since the people of Israel saw them as traitors since they were working for the Roman Empire. If this is not enough, he also fellowshipped and shared meals with prostitutes. Though, people would want to see them stoned, He looked at them through eyes of grace and mercy. Though they sold their God given bodies, the Lord knew one day their bodies could become temples of the Holy Spirit for honorable use.
When He would stand before the people, they knew that He spoke with authority. He was not relying on others, but he did make it clear that He had an authority to interpret Scriptures and teach, heal, prophesy, etc. that was intrinsic to him as a person. Truly, it was intrinsic because we know Him to be the Son of God, Messiah, God Himself with us. The message only gets better, this authority was not only given to Him, and of Him, but it was passed on to us by Him.
We can now teach the truth, the gospel. We can heal the sick and cast out evil spirits. We can administer baptism and disciple people as they choose to follow Christ. All these things, we can do because our authority comes from God. Our confidence, boldness must be rooted in Him. When we look at the One who has given us authority, we can be assured that we can walk forward confidently. This authority that we have been given is a signature, by which we act. Every time we exercise it, we preach of the One who came before us and will come again. In like manner people will look at us and marvel and ask, ‘How come this person speaks with such authority?’ We will gladly answer, because we have been saved, and have been given power to act on the behalf of Christ that you might come to know Him.