REblog: Hope for timid evangelists

» Blogging Theologically | Jesus, Books, Culture, & Theology
Aaron Armstrong
Apr 24, 2013, 5:33 AM more »

I have a confession: I’m one of the world’s most timid evangelists; it doesn’t come naturally to me (no surprise there). We’ve been working our way through a very practical witnessing workshop to provide a biblical framework for evangelism—one that actually requires you to *gasp* ask questions of non-Christian friends and family!

You wouldn’t think this is a terribly hard thing to do, but it seems to be. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt a sense of hesitation set in before doing something even as simple as sending an email asking a pretty open-ended question. When I see that people are ready and willing to answer these questions (some as pointed as “where do you believe you’ll spend eternity and why?”), I feel a little silly.

But here’s the good news—God’s Word offers much hope for timid evangelists like me, especially in the gospel of Luke. Here are five truths we can embrace:

1. You don’t need to fear man. The worst they can do is kill you. (Luke 12:4-7)

2. You don’t need to be concerned about what to say, especially when facing persecution—the Holy Spirit will teach you what you ought to say when you need it. (Luke 12:11)

3. You don’t need to get caught up in results. You are responsible to sow the “seed” of the gospel, not to make it grow. (Luke 8:4-8)

4. You don’t need to be surprised when things get difficult. Jesus has promised these things will come and we will be rewarded as we persevere through trial. (Luke 9:23-27)

5. You don’t need to worry about messing it up—you are the means by which God has sovereignly ordained the nations will be reached. (Luke 24:46-49)

What biblical encouragement would you add to this list?

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REblog: Hymn Stories – The Church’s One Foundation

Songs are a powerful means of teaching. The melodies, rhythms, and rhymes that characterize songs make the words easier to remember. The best and most effective songs combine lyrics and music to cultivate feelings that complement the meaning.

All throughout history God’s people have used songs to teach. We can see this as early as Exodus 15 where Moses records the song Israel sang after crossing the Red Sea. It taught everyone who heard and sang it about God’s character in that great act of delivering his people. In the New Testament we encounter simple but important truths in the earliest Christian hymns.

The Rev. Samuel John Stone was well aware of the effectiveness of singing when he wrote and published Lyra Fidelium in 1866. As a curate in the small town of Windsor, England, he was aware of his parishoners’ habit of using the Apostles’ Creed in their private prayers. But he was concerned that many of them did not grasp the meaning of what they said. The prose felt too academic, disconnected from the average worshipper, and lacking a devotional spirit.

It was in this context that he wrote Lyra Fidelium, which consisted of twelve hymns, one for each article of the Apostles’ Creed. With each hymn he included a short “summary of truths confessed” in that article, along with a list of the Scripture passages supporting it. “The Church’s One Foundation” was the hymn he wrote for article 9 of the Creed, which affirms belief in “the holy catholic church” and “the communion of saints.”

“The Church’s One Foundation” is the best known of the twelve hymns in this collection. Louis Benson quotes one English archbishop as saying that “wherever he was called upon to open or dedicate a church, he could always count on two things–cold chicken and ‘The Church’s one Foundation’.”

The hymn’s long legacy undoubtedly owes to the many sweet doctrines it includes, its use of the words and concepts of Scripture to express them, and its uniqueness in teaching the doctrine of the church. Benson describes it as embodying “practically every doctrince concerning the church [Stone] held most dear (its divine origin, its unbroken continuity, its catholicity and essential unity, its orthodoxy, its sacramental grace, its communion with God and with the departed saints, its militancy and final triumph).”

The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.

She is from every nation,
Yet one o’er all the earth;
Her charter of salvation,
One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses,
With every grace endued.

The Church shall never perish!
Her dear Lord to defend,
To guide, sustain, and cherish,
Is with her to the end:
Though there be those who hate her,
And false sons in her pale,
Against both foe or traitor
She ever shall prevail.

Though with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distressed:
Yet saints their watch are keeping,
Their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song!

‘Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace forevermore;
Till, with the vision glorious,
Her longing eyes are blest,
And the great Church victorious
Shall be the Church at rest.

Yet she on earth hath union
With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won,
With all her sons and daughters
Who, by the Master’s hand
Led through the deathly waters,
Repose in Eden land.

O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we
Like them, the meek and lowly,
On high may dwell with Thee:
There, past the border mountains,
Where in sweet vales the Bride
With Thee by living fountains
Forever shall abide!

Indelible Grace has a recording of the song set to a new melody and they are offering it to you for free. You can visit NoiseTrade to get it. There is the option there to leave a tip, but feel completely freedom to take the song for free.

Spurgeons Evening Devotion

“The Lord taketh pleasure in his people.”
Psalm 149:4

How comprehensive is the love of Jesus! There is no part of his people’s interests which he does not consider, and there is nothing which concerns their welfare which is not important to him. Not merely does he think of you, believer, as an immortal being, but as a mortal being too. Do not deny it or doubt it: “The very hairs of your head are all numbered.” “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.” It were a sad thing for us if this mantle of love did not cover all our concerns, for what mischief might be wrought to us in that part of our business which did not come under our gracious Lord’s inspection! Believer, rest assured that the heart of Jesus cares about your meaner affairs. The breadth of his tender love is such that you may resort to him in all matters; for in all your afflictions he is afflicted, and like as a father pitieth his children, so doth he pity you. The meanest interests of all his saints are all borne upon the broad bosom of the Son of God. Oh, what a heart is his, that doth not merely comprehend the persons of his people, but comprehends also the diverse and innumerable concerns of all those persons! Dost thou think, O Christian, that thou canst measure the love of Christ? Think of what his love has brought thee—justification, adoption, sanctification, eternal life! The riches of his goodness are unsearchable; thou shalt never be able to tell them out or even conceive them. Oh, the breadth of the love of Christ! Shall such a love as this have half our hearts? Shall it have a cold love in return? Shall Jesus’ marvellous lovingkindness and tender care meet with but faint response and tardy acknowledgment? O my soul, tune thy harp to a glad song of thanksgiving! Go to thy rest rejoicing, for thou art no desolate wanderer, but a beloved child, watched over, cared for, supplied, and defended by thy Lord.

A Tozer Devotion For Today: Encountering God

ENCOUNTERING GOD
The man that will have God’s best becomes at once the object of the personal attention of the Holy Spirit. Such a man will not be required to wait for the rest of the church to come alive. He will not be penalized for the failures of his fellow Christians, nor be asked to forego the blessing till his sleepy brethren catch up. God deals with the individual heart as exclusively as if only one existed.

If this should seem to be an unduly individualistic approach to revival, let it be remembered that religion is personal before it can be social. Every prophet, every reformer, every revivalist had to meet God alone before he could help the multitudes. The great leaders who went on to turn thousands to Christ had to begin with God and their own soul. The plain Christian of today must experience personal revival before he can hope to bring renewed spiritual life to his church.

Today’s Devotional was originally found in the writings from A.W. Tozer from the following book:
The Size of the Soul
Chapter 3 – What About Revival?–Part II: Personal Revival

Verse

. . . Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. . . . John 7:37-39

Thought

Any one of us may experience personal revival whether or not anyone else does. How intense is our thirst for God? Are we willing to wholly surrender ourselves to God no matter what others do? Then, let’s begin today!

Prayer

Teach me what it means, Lord, to be wholly surrendered to You that I might know the filling of Your Spirit.

REblog: Is It ‘Unspiritual’ To Be Discouraged?

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From time to time over the centuries some Christians have taught, sometimes with tragic consequences, that a truly spiritual person never gets discouraged. To be cast down is, by definition, to be ‘unspiritual.’ Unless we are well-grounded in Scripture, it is very easy for us to be overwhelmed, confused, and even more discouraged by such teaching.

This teaching certainly seems logical: if the gospel saves us, it must save us from discouragement! It also appears to be wonderfully spiritual. After all, are we not ‘more than conquerors through him who loved us’ (Rom. 8:37)?

But this is not biblical logic, nor is it true spirituality. The gospel saves us from death, not by removing death, but by helping us to face it in the power of Christ’s victory and thus to overcome it. So, too, with sin. And similarly with discouragement. Faith in Christ does not remove all of the causes of discouragement; rather, it enables us to overcome them. We may experience discouragement; but we will not be defeated by it.

FAITH IN CHRIST DOES NOT REMOVE ALL OF THE CAUSES OF DISCOURAGEMENT; RATHER, IT ENABLES US TO OVERCOME THEM.
Nor is this the biblical spirituality; it is a false ‘super-spirituality’ that ignores or denies the reality of our humanity. We live in frail flesh and blood and in a fallen world which, John says, ‘lies in the power of the evil one’ (1 John 5:19). There is much to discourage. Jesus felt that. To be free from the possibility of discouragements would be more ‘spiritual’ than Jesus—and therefore not truly spiritual at all.

Psalms 42 and 43 teach us the biblical approach to discouragement: we feel it, we recognize it for what it is, and we analyze the reasons for its presence.

This blog post is an excerpt from Sinclair Ferguson’s book, Deserted by God.

A Piper Devotion For This Evening

Free from Shame’s Paralysis

Your sins are forgiven. (Luke 7:48)

A woman comes to Jesus in a Pharisee’s house weeping and washing his feet. No doubt she felt shame as the eyes of Simon communicated to everyone present that this woman was a sinner and that Jesus had no business letting her touch him.

Indeed she was a sinner. There was a place for true shame. But not for too long.

Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:48). And when the guests murmured about this, he helped her faith again by saying, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:50).

How did Jesus help her battle the crippling effects of shame? He gave her a promise: “Your sins have been forgiven! Your faith has saved you. Your future will be one of peace.” He declared that past pardon would now yield future peace.

So the issue for her was faith in God’s future grace rooted in the authority of Jesus’s forgiving work and freeing word. That is the way every one of us must battle the effects of a well-placed shame that threatens to linger too long and cripple us.

We must battle unbelief by taking hold of the promises of future grace and peace that come through the forgiveness of our shameful acts. “But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared” (Psalm 130:4). “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6–7). “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). “To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43).

It doesn’t matter whether the act of God’s forgiveness is entirely past, or if there is new forgiveness in the future — in both cases the issue is the lib¬erating power of God’s forgiveness for our future — freedom from shame. Forgiveness is full of future grace.

When we live by faith in future grace, we are freed from the lingering, paralyzing effects of well-placed shame.

Future Grace, pages 133–134

I Commit To Pray For:

This past Sunday, Pastor Steven talked about how we must become a praying people if we are going to be the whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole world. He talked about the ways in which we need to shift our lives to live an active and healthy prayer life. He also issued a challenge to us. If you were at our worship gathering this past Sunday, you received a small printed card which read:

I Commit To Pray For:

– More dependency upon Christ

– To grow in your faith

– For the church

– For people to be saved by Jesus

– For our city

Let’s take this challenge seriously. Let us, together, taste and see that the Lord is good and faithful to the work of his gospel. Let’s shift our lives to become a praying people.