For All to Hear

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7, NLT)

The words above were spoken to the prophet Samuel, after he took one look at Jesse’s son, Eliab, and immediately assumed he would be the next king of Israel. God gently chided Samuel by telling him not to judge a man by his outward appearance and reminded him that He (God) sees the parts that truly matter. This weekend, as I was praying during one of our church’s worship and prayer services, I heard the following words spoken to my spirit: How dare we pick and choose who we will share the message of the gospel of Christ with! His spilt blood and broken body are far too precious for us to keep to ourselves.

Now, for most of us this may seem common sense and we’re thinking to ourselves, “I don’t judge anybody by their outward appearance!” But honestly…how do we usually decide who we share the gospel with? Do we only share the truth with those we think will be most receptive to hear it? Do we only share the message with strangers and overlook our friends because we’re afraid of changing the status of our relationship? Or perhaps we only share the gospel with our friends and ignore strangers or people who seem different from us? I know I’ve been guilty of all of these at one point or another.Until the Whole World Hears

Whatever the case may be, the truth remains the same. Christ died for all. And our responsibility as believers is to share the good news with everybody; not just those we believe might accept it, or just with our friends and family, or only with strangers. I hear you asking, “But what if they don’t accept it?” Our job is simply to share it, not to force people to believe. And here’s where we need to be reminded that no one has been, or ever will be, won over by the gospel of Christ if we’re rude, pushy, judgmental, or hateful. We’re called to speak in love and truth, to live what we believe, and plant the seed, whether or not we ever see any fruit firsthand.

How many people will miss out on the saving knowledge of Christ because we’re afraid of being rejected, mocked, or persecuted? How many people will miss out on the single most important relationship they’ll ever need or want—with Christ—because we’re afraid to modify the status of our relationship with that person?

You know, when Jesus said in Luke 14:26 that if we wanted to be His disciples we must hate everybody else, He didn’t mean that we actually were to hate them; He meant it in comparison to Him. The whole point is that we are to love God so passionately that everything else we love pales in comparison. He should be our everything and the only One we should be worried about displeasing. Therefore, when we put relationships with others before Him, we’re actually being disobedient. Furthermore, don’t we want the people we come into contact with every day to have that opportunity to receive Christ as their personal Lord and Savior!? What’s more important, the relationship, or their eternal soul?

Lastly, since fear is the obstacle I face most often when it comes to sharing the gospel, I like to keep Hebrews 13:6 posted in my cubicle at work (and continually in the back of my mind) to constantly remind me that God is always with me, just as He’s always with you. Now…”go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” and remember He is with us always…”even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? (Hebrews 13:6, NLT)

So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me? (Hebrews 13:6, AMP)

Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” we can boldly quote, “God is there, ready to help; I’m fearless no matter what. Who or what can get to me?” (Hebrews 13:6, The Message)

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Judgment

I came across this short statement a while ago, and it was recently brought to mind, so I thought I’d share it with you…

In our politically correct age, we are told that it’s not our right to point fingers and pass judgment on others. However, this is actually a judgment in and of itself, and thus it contradicts the principle that we should not judge others. So when someone tells you that it’s wrong for you to judge, ask, “So then why are you judging me?” Anyone who says Jesus prohibits all judgment in Matthew 7:1 has taken His words out of context. It is a self-righteous, hypocritical judgment that Jesus condemns (Romans 2:1-3). Elsewhere He actually commands His followers to “judge according to righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Paul said Christians are responsible to discern the actions of other Christians (1 Corinthians 5:9-13, 6:2-5). Of course our goal must be correction rather than scorn when we make righteous judgments. We must keep a humble, non-hypocritical spirit when we judge others, but we should never buy into the idea that it is wrong to practice and communicate discernment. (Apologetics Study Bible for Students. (2009). P 1010. Holman Bible Publishers: Nashville, TN.)

Unforgivable

The Bible says there’s only one unforgivable sin and that’s blasphemy against the Holy Spirit; but what does that look/sound like you may say.

Well, in Matthew (12:22-37), Mark (3:23-27), and Luke (11:17-22), Jesus explains…

Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house. He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, neither in this age or in the age to come. Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. (Matthew 12:22-33)

Why was Jesus explaining that a kingdom divided against itself will not stand? Because the Pharisees were telling people that the authority Jesus had to bind and drive out demons was from Satan himself. First of all, Jesus wanted to remind them that a house divided against itself will not last; if Satan is fighting with his demons how does he get anything accomplished? And secondly, good things are not in Satan’s nature; Jesus says “make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.”

The Pharisees refused to acknowledge that Jesus’ authority was from God, because they didn’t want to accept that Jesus was the foretold Messiah; they refused to accept that “the kingdom of God” had come upon them. Instead, they accused Jesus–and the Holy Spirit, at work within Jesus–of not being from God. Jesus stated that “blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven,” because they were trying to say that the things Jesus was doing–forgiving, healing, driving out demons, and restoring life to the dead(!)–were not of God/Holy Spirit.

Today, there are many people and churches out there claiming to do all sorts of things in the name of the God/Holy Spirit/Jesus. Not all of them are true, but neither are they all false. When we see or hear things going on around us, we must put aside our flesh and listen and observe with spiritual eyes and ears; allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to us and reveal what is going on. People often state, “God is not a god of chaos,” which I assume they’re getting from Isaiah 45:18, however, not everybody worships in the same way; and what seems like chaos to us may be heavenly harmony to God.

In conclusion, don’t be so quick to judge what is/isn’t of God. We must put aside what our flesh tells us–and sometimes what others have told us–and instead, listen to the guiding voice of the Holy Spirit, and compare everything to the truth found in God’s Word (which means studying God’s Word for yourself); and remember, His Word tells us that a tree is recognized by its fruit…therefore, always ask “what kind of fruit is being produced?”