Having Gospel Conversations*

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SPEAK UP!

It’s a challenge for any of us to actually speak up — especially in the middle of a crowd! But Jesus Christ calls us to speak up and to tell others the truth of the Good News. Peter the apostle did this in Acts 2:14 when he raised his voice and declares the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the first time.

Here, the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples. Those present heard “a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting” (2:1). This is the moment that the Holy Spirit came and “there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance” (2:3, 4). God used this miraculous act to bring this Good News of Jesus Christ to the people, through the apostles.

However, the people surrounding them—Jews living in Jerusalem and devout men from every nation under heaven—came together when they heard this sound and were confused. These men who were uneducated, were speaking in the different languages represented by all the people who were in Jerusalem at this time (2:6-12). Others (were) mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine” (2:13).

No matter the many wonderful things we are through the Lord Jesus Christ, some will be amazed and some will doubt and make fun of us.

When this happens, speak up just like Peter does! He tells the people to give heed to my words (2:14) and begins to preach this first apostolic sermon. I’m not saying that all of us will be preachers, but we are all called to be proclaimers! We are each called to stand up and speak the Good News to people. We are called to speak up, through the power of the Spirit.

SPEAK THE WORD OF GOD

While we do have the Holy Spirit with us, it doesn’t give us an excuse to not be prepared. When we have an opportunity to speak up, we need to be prepared to share God’s Word!

Peter had a unique situation because He was watching prophecy become real before his eyes. He tells the people, both those listening and not, that God’s word is being fulfilled at that very moment. Quoting Joel 2:28-32, he basically says that This is the message! This is God’s word being fulfilled! The disciples have had the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them, and they are proclaiming; people believe; and slaves and free people are receiving dreams and prophesying. Peter simply shows the people that God’s Word is being fulfilled.

When we speak up, we don’t need to have the best seminary degrees or know what’s going to happen next. We simply need to speak the Word of God as clearly as we are able.

It’s the idea of salting and peppering our daily language with Scripture that we know. It’s showing people that God’s Word is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword… able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart(cf. Hebrews 4:12). People must see the truth living inside of us!

People seeing that you are changed and bold will make them curious, compelling them to ask “Why?” and then, “Why not me?” as the Lord leads.

SPEAK GOD’S PLAN FOR SALVATION

Speaking God’s word means that we are speaking His plan for salvation.

Peter tells the people that Jesus attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs, which God performed through Him in your midst (Acts 2:22). These miracles and wonders and signs are proof of who Jesus the Nazarene is: He is God.. And those who were in Jerusalem knew of Jesus the Nazarene. But Peter reveals something that these people may not have known: this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death (2:23). First, this is what God has planned from eternity. Second, God intended to redeem mankind this way. And third, mankind is responsible for Jesus’ death!

This was not a popular message in Peter’s day – it’s not popular today! – but he spoke truth. The reality is: mankind is why Jesus Christ died. If the story stopped there, then there’s no hope for anyone!

Peter says that God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it is impossible for Him to be held in its power (2:24)!  God raised Jesus from the dead. Death is defeated. Death can’t do one thing to Jesus Christ. And because He lives, we can live in Him (cf. Galatians 2:20).

SPEAK OF JESUS CHRIST’S RESURRECTION.

Why is the resurrection so important to speak?

If our Lord Jesus Christ had never been raised from the dead, then He would not have been exalted to the right hand of God. The promise of the Holy Spirit wouldn’t have been poured forth on Pentecost (Acts 2:33). Jesus promised His disciples He would live; if He wasn’t resurrected, He would have been lying to His disciples; but He is the Second Person of the Trinity, and it is impossible for God to lie (cf. Hebrews 6:18).  Therefore, David prophesies that Jesus is exalted to the right hand of God and the Father says to the Son, “The Lord said to my Lord, sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet” (Acts 2:33-35).

We know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified (Acts 2:36). We can speak confidently that our Lord and Savior is the resurrected Son, and those who believe upon Him shall be saved.

We must speak up and tell the Word of God, the message of Salvation, namely, that Jesus is alive!

Who’s your one? Who will you share this message with? Let’s pray that each of us will commit ourselves to share this hope in Christ with those we come across this week!

* With Nicole Gentry

 

The Weight of Glory*

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C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity:

“Enemy-occupied territory — that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.” As we live among the world, we are called to engage with this world, to sabotage the evil and raise the name of our righteous King Jesus!

LIVING IN THIS WORLD

Living in a fallen world isn’t easy to do, and we cannot be weak in our walks with the Lord. Paul the apostle encourages us in 2 Corinthians 4:16, that we be renewed daily in the Lord Jesus Christ. Many days, it may feel like the world around you is against you, or that you are tired from the ministry He has asked you to do. But Paul says that this “daily renewing” is what causes us continue in the work God has given us to do.

Sometimes, we will face pain and suffering, but in light of the weight of glory that awaits us, nothing compares (4:17). We don’t need to be discouraged if we see our lives and the world through eternity (4:18). We do live in an earthly “tent” for now – the tent will be tossed by the wind, hurt in the storms, but rebuilt through joy and encouragement. Even through this process, we can look forward to that eternal building from God, a house not made with hands (5:1). We groan here, longing for home and for the life we were created for — but we can put on the eternal now so we won’t be ashamed during these days or when we meet our Savior.

WALKING IN THE SPIRIT
This home is only temporary, but our eternal home is permanent (5:2-4)! Now, since God has given us a preview of the eternal and we can see a glimmer of eternity, He has prepared us! All of our responsibilities and work is from God; He has prepared us for His very purpose, and has given us His Spirit as a promise (5:5). All that He has done, is doing, and will do in us is guaranteed — His Holy Spirit will help us live this way. We prefer to be with Jesus Christ in glory. For to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord (5:6-8). But we can live with courage and not lose heart when we walk by faith and not by sight!

LIVING FOR JESUS 
Our goal must be to please our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (5:6-9). In our thoughts, with our words, and in our deeds — our entire life is called to reflect Jesus and show the lost world that He changes people. When we face the judgment seat of Christ (5:10), we will be paid for what we’ve done in this life, those good works that we have done which He has prepared beforehand for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). We also will be paid for what we’ve done against His will. I don’t know what this will look like, but this verse very clearly states that we will answer for everything.

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men (5:11). 

Knowing both who Jesus Christ is as Judge and who we are as sinful man, we work. The people we are interacting with everyday, see us for who we are — or they should see us as whose we are! If people think we are crazy for believing what we believe, let them. But if they see and believe — THAT is the reason to share the Gospel (5:12, 13)! We also speak about Jesus because the love of Christ controls us (5:14) and because He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf (5:14, 15). Jesus did this work so that men and women and boys and girls can live forever. Let that motivate you and me to live intentionally and speak His name.

REACHING ONE
When ONE comes to Jesus Christ, he or she is transformed by God (5:17)! Paul had been lost, persecuting Christ’s followers, but was transformed into one who spoke words of life. His attitudes and actions all changed because of Jesus. Christ removed the rebellion in Paul’s heart and reconciled, or made him right, by His own sacrifice (5:18, 19). We no longer represent ourselves; we represent the One to whom all glory, honor, blessing, and praise belongs!

We represent Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world — a world full of guilt, sin, and shame. As we go, we must wear Jesus’ name intentionally so that people can see how He has changed us.

And what has He done for you? He has taken your sin upon Himself and clothed you and me, given or imputed to us, His own righteousness. This is why we plead with others: “Come; know Him unto salvation, so that you can live forever with Him!”

Commit yourself today and tomorrow to be an ambassador, a messenger, for Jesus Christ!

*With Nicole Gentry.

It Is Nothing Short of…

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I cannot stop thinking of how God has healed my Bride! It is nothing short of a miracle that He has done! While the doctors thought they were supposed to remove a new tumor, especially after seeing a PET scan showing that it was there…it was not there! They couldn’t find a thing wrong with her!

Her doctor apologized to me for then exercising his option to do exploratory surgery. He said that he wanted to make sure that there were no other signs of cancer anywhere. Sure enough, after looking here and there, seeing and watching for what he was looking, and feeling here and there for what he expected that he might find, “there was nothing nefarious or cancerous” that he could find.

Now the next steps include: recovery from her incision and the doctor moving everything around inside; getting her up and moving as quickly as possible which aids in the healing process; and then bringing her home where she can actually get good solid rest and is not being poked and prodded throughout the day and night. However, I have to say, her care has been extraordinary! Texas Presbyterian Health is an excellent medical institution and the people who work there have taken great care of my Bride.

I am so thankful that God still heals. No one in this world can convince me otherwise! He still saves us from our sin and He still heals us when we are in desperate need! So my prayer for each of my readers is this:

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen (Jude 24, 25, NASB)

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