A well known assassin and persecutor will no longer be taking the lives of Christians. He is no longer accepting orders to kill Christians and is now taking orders from Jesus Christ. He has put down the sword and has picked up the Scriptures, and his powerful testimony is pointing people to Christ; the lost are regularly coming to salvation in Christ under his teachings. He once lived in great darkness and was an instrument to spread that darkness, but now the light of Christ shines brightly within him.
What a great piece of news! Who is this man? I wish I could tell you this story was written about a man who is alive today, one of the masked terrorists persecuting Christians and beheading people in the name of his religious beliefs, but actually, this is a true report of a man who lived many years ago: Saul of Tarsus. But hold on, this story should still encourage your heart. God took a deceived, blood-thirsty, misguided killer of Christians, and He transformed Saul into a powerful, humble, Spirit-filled follower of Jesus Christ. What God did some 2000 years ago, He can do today. And God is doing it, though you and I may not get to hear those testimonies until we get to heaven. God can take the most evil-infested heart and make it white as snow.
Are you praying for your enemies? Are you loving them, desiring to bless them and not curse them? Our hatred of the evil regimes that are killing people, especially Christians, will in no way improve the situation. But if we choose to do what Jesus commanded and love our enemies, blessing and not cursing them, the power of God can move in their lives and transform them from evil-filled killers to Jesus-filled men of peace. God can make that change. Let the change begin in you and in me.
As we age, we are constantly redefining what we hold dear. As little ones, it’s plastic rings and lovey bears. We age a little, and we trade in our baby toys for electronic gadgets and high fashion. Our treasures change through the seasons of life. We all have our favorite stuff, but what do you love?
God cares about what we hold dear, because our treasures can compete with our love for Him. God says, “How long will you love worthlessness?” (Psalm 4:2). The worthless loves can be trinkets or gadgets, but they can also be unhealthy relationships, a sense of control, carousing, or fleeting ambitions.
Is there anyone or anything competing with God for your greatest affection?
Here’s an interesting factoid.
According to missionaries working in India:
1 out of every 10 Hindus in India will scold a Christian for sharing her faith.
1 out of every 10 Hindus in India will accept Christ when a Christian shares her faith.
6 out of every 10 Hindus in India want a Christian to share with him or her about Jesus.
Are you giving into fear, or giving into Jesus?
Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
Psalm 126:2-3 NKJV
We’re entering into a joyful time of the year. Autumn is an opportunity for precious moments spent with family and friends in celebration of God’s great harvest. Our joy – our inward happiness in our walk with the Lord that spills out onto others as a fruit of the Spirit – is a powerful testimony to the world that our God has blessed us. Child of God, let your laughter and songs of joy ring forth among all peoples!
(Fast Fact: South America has 200 people groups with no evangelical presence among them, including 85 unreached tribes in the Amazon Basin who have no contact with the outside world. http://www.samregion.org.)
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!”
Romans 10:14-15 NKJV
Imagine moving into town. You and your family begin looking for the basics: where is the grocery store? Where is the post office? Where are the churches? Can you imagine living in a community where there is no church – not even one? How could a community be without a single Christian fellowship? Simple. Where there are no believers, there is no church.
Over 4 billion people are members of an unreached people group. The need is critical. But “how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?”
What can you do to help the cause of Christ?
(Fast Fact: Over 3004 people groups representing 205 million people are members of unreached people groups who have NO active church planting happening among them. www.public.imb.org)
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:1-2 NKJV
Have you ever sacrificed in order to give a special present? Perhaps you did extra chores as a child, trying to earn money to buy your mom a scarf or your dad a tie. Maybe you’ve worked overtime to provide something extravagant for your sweetheart. All of the sacrifice seemed worth it at the moment you presented the gift and you saw the expression of joy on your loved one’s face.
The Apostle Paul calls us to be “living sacrifices,” and then links this idea to the mandate that we “do not be conformed to this world.” The world tugs at us to allocate all of our resources – time, money, talents – to make our lives easier, but the sweet Spirit of God implores us to lay it all down for the sake of Christ. One day we shall see Jesus, and what a joyful moment it will be indeed when we hear our Savior say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” He is worthy of the sacrifice of our very best, our all and all.
“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
Isaiah 55:11 NKJV
Incredible things happen when God speaks; planets are formed. Storms cease. The dead come to life again. God has promised that His Word will prosper wherever He sends it, and He is currently sending it around the globe through people who are willing to share a message that comes straight from the throne of God. How can you get the Word of God into the hands of someone who needs to hear? A single verse from the pages of Scripture can transform a life for eternity.
I wanted my kids to be as prepared as possible for school this year, so I invested one dollar and have made the commitment of spending approximately five minutes a week to helping them be successful in the classroom, on the playground, and in life.
One journal from the dollar store is now sitting on my kitchen table. Every Sunday night before I retire for the evening, I turn to a fresh page and write by hand a Bible verse of the week for them. I’m not going by a guide or focusing on a book of the Bible; I’m simply jotting down one of the thousands of nuggets of truth and wisdom from God’s Word. My children read the verse during breakfast, and at some point during the week we discuss the verse over dinner. Simple.
Who in your life needs exposure to Scripture? One dollar, five minutes, a simple plan…ask God to guide you, and get started!
For more parenting ideas, check out Soul Shaping: Creating Compassionate Children.
Please pray through these two verses on behalf of the lost people of the world.
And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.
Acts 17:26-27 NKJV
One blood: Pray for an ever-growing compassion for and a stronger heart connection with the peoples of the earth, all made in the image of God, sinners through the seed of Adam, and people who are loved by God.
Every nation: God’s creativity is displayed in variety. God has ordained the many people groups of the world. Pray that each people group will worship the Creator, Holy God.
All the face of the earth: Pray for a willingness to go to the ends of the earth to reach every nation for Christ. Ask God to send laborers down every dusty road, through each thick jungle, down every winding river, and up every hill and mountain to share the gospel message with the people scattered throughout all the earth.
Appointed times and boundaries: Pray for several divine appointments in your life, wherever God may send you.
So that they should seek the LORD: Pray for government leaders and leaders of false religions, the rich and poor, the young and the old, to seek the Lord. Ask God to help missionaries to realize new ways to aid people in seeking the Lord.
He is not far from each one of us: Praise God for His faithfulness and mercy. Thank Him for being available and accessible at all times to all people. Isn’t that a marvelous thought? Pray that the people of the world will begin to sense the nearness of God. Ask the Lord to make His presence known among those who are seeking Him, and even those who have never shown interest in Him.
Something’s happening in Gujarat, India today that might pertain to America.
Every year the people embark upon a 10-day celebration honoring the Hindu god Ganesh (this year’s celebration is August 29-September 8). The people bring idols of Ganesh into their homes, purchasing or creating the largest version of this multi-armed, elephant-headed god they can afford. They want the largest idol they can afford, because Ganesh is believed to be able to remove their obstacles from their lives, and the bigger the idol, the bigger the obstacle that can be overcome. They worship him for 10 days with food, drink, flower, and even money offerings. Now note what happens to the Ganesh idol today as the finale to the celebration: they carry it in a ceremonial procession to drop it in the nearest large body of water.
This celebration is also happening at a Hindu Temple in New York and at other Hindu temples around the world. Sad and confused by this ritual? But let us look carefully in our own American backyards. Do we buy the most expensive toys we can afford, hoping that our new and fancy trinkets will remove our obstacles and make our lives easier? And then when the gadget breaks, the trinket loses its luster, or an upgraded version of the gadget comes along, we dump our stuff into the nearest donation box and go out to buy new.
There’s nothing sinful about having stuff. But take a moment to consider, how do you select your stuff? How does it make you feel to buy new stuff? How quickly do you go through your stuff? Just something to think about on September 8.