Vicki and I sat down with the parents of our neighbor Paulo this afternoon, and with a family friend who was staying with them while recuperating from pneumonia. Paulo was also present. I presented a lesson about Jesus from John 1.1-18, with a two-page outline. Sr. Vicente and D. Georgina are very religious and committed to their tradition, so it will be a challenge as we present the gospel to them. D. Georgina prepared coffee and cake for us after the study. Paulo took the photo. They live on the east side of the city. We’ve had a good bit of contact with them through Paulo, as we’ve joined them in cookouts, watching the World Cup, and other get-togethers at his house.
O Soul, few books stay in print for more than a decade. Some reference works, perhaps, or something considered as a classic of literature. The monuments of men may last longer, but they too will come tumbling down at some point. The accomplishments of this world are soon forgotten or surpassed. The gospel, however, has eternal effect. It deserves your best effort. Insert it into every activity, in order to redeem and give meaning to all you do. What the world does lasts but a moment. You may perform the same action as the pagan, but with the gospel in your toolbox, the results are far superior. So write, build, work, speak always with its power behind you.
A man called Lawrence wrote centuries ago, “If I were a preacher, I would preach nothing but practicing the presence of God.” You, O Soul, are a preacher, an evangelist, an announcer of the Good News, whether or not you devote full time to this service. And to live in the presence of God ought to be the end of our speaking. Every subject you talk about should relate to entering into Christ, where the presence of God is, or how to remain in Christ. Tell people how to get there. Tell them how to stay there. The salvation of our soul has this as the goal. God offers forgiveness of sins so that we might receive the Holy Spirit. Holiness is practiced in order that we might see God. Always remember this final objective. In your own life and in your service of the Good News, never forget the great goal of life, God’s presence.
Do not fear to speak truth to those outside of Christ, and to those who need encouragement and correction in the Body. O Soul, you need to hear words of comfort, love, and exhortation. Those around you need them, too. Let your love for souls be known. Make compassion the spring of your speech and actions. Keep saving grace your focus, and eternal salvation your goal, for you and for all. Want heaven for yourself and others. Speak of it at all times. Nothing else matters, really. If you lose this, all is lost. So many depend on you to hear the gospel as well. If you don’t speak, they will have no hope. Yes, the responsibility is great, and the rewards are even greater.
There’s not much said in the NT about church planting. Plenty is said about proclaiming the gospel. So how did people know how to gather together in community? Reckon the saints said something about the church in their message? Something like,
“God formed a people centered in his love. He brings the followers of Christ together. The new life is lived in community, nothing like you’ve ever seen before. His people are not Jews or pagans, it’s not philosophy or pleasure-seeking, but what we’ve all been looking for. God assembles them now as they wait for the Great Assembly in heaven when the Lord returns for them.”
Reckon? The kingdom message implies a chosen people. Contrary to some who want to leave the church out of their message.
A tweet affirmed that the goal of missions is to plant churches that plant other churches. I have no beef with the general idea. The gospel ought to spread to every place. But the wording doesn’t get much support from the NT. The church is a product of proclaiming the gospel. The emphasis is on the latter. The tweet puts forth a humanly based activity. It sets aside the activity of God. It probably reflects denominational bias. When the gospel is preached in its fullness and truth, God adds the converts to his church and they begin to meet together. Quite simple, is it not?
In his devotional thought today, Ed M. uses Nahum 2.13 to contrast the messengers of Nineveh (see 2 Kings 18) and those of God. And what a contrast!
The one spoke of submission to the king, II Kings 18:31,32. The other encouraged faith in the King of kings, Nahum 1:12,13. One led to disaster. The other pointed to deliverance. One promised earthly pleasures. The other told of heavenly blessings. Each messenger offered a choice, spoke with conviction, and asked for submission. Only one deserved a hearing.
God’s messengers continue to speak the Word. Let us be among their number.
Focus question: What word of God’s does the world need to hear today?
Christians know that society needs the gospel to resolve its problems. But how many Christians are proclaiming it and teaching others what to do to be saved? THAT is the greatest problem of all. Paying preachers and sitting in church buildings does not get the job done. The Lord well may lay at the church’s doorstep much of the violence and sin overtaking society today, because we have failed to do our job. Pay preachers? Yes. But let each one do his job of reaching his neighbors for the Lord Christ.
The Lord makes all his people his coworkers and chooses the weak, the lowly, and the humble as his carriers of the gospel. He has no others. In this way, the gospel’s power shines through.
The gospel has no third way, just God’s or man’s, the heavenly or the earthly, the will of God or the self. There is no avoiding the extremes.