Category: Encouragement

Witness Well

Promises to prepare believers to be witnesses

There are powerful words associated with remaining in Christ that are not to be taken lightly. Words of promise and ramifications. Words of promise and boldness.

In an uncompromising world, there are absolute promises that requires an enormous sacrifice.

Trust.

Jesus makes promises for all people. For those who trust in Christ and remain in his love, promises turn into reality.

With a careful reflection of the words of John 15, we can discover seven important truths that a believer can count on. These promises help prepare us to be his witnesses in today’s world.

#1 Believers are already clean!

“You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.”  (John 15:3)

Believers are clean not based on what we have done or can do for Christ, but the powerful claims of His Word.

The Lord lovingly tends to those who remain in Him. He disciplines those he loves and delights in pruning branches in our lives that are not bearing fruit. The act of pruning is often painful, but necessary for believers so that they may bear fruit in greater number and higher quality.

#2 Bearing fruit is a promise that believers can count on.

“If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.”  (John 15:5)

A healthy tree bears good fruit. It’s a natural response because that’s what fruit trees were created to do.

Faithful believers who remain in Christ bear good fruit because that is what they were created to do. The acts of faithfulness are focused on the “remaining” rather than the “doing”. This means remaining steadfastly in his Word so that a believer can be a healthy tree in Christ. This includes trusting God’s promises when life is sunny or stormy and that God is planting them right where they need. He provides the right people at the right time to pick the low-hanging fruit from a believer so they can “taste and see that the Lord is good.”

#3 Obedience is a wonderful opportunity for believers to experience the presence of Christ.

“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. (v. 10)

Obedience does not affect a believer’s status with Christ, but introduces His presence to the world.

#4 Jesus claims all believers to be His friends.

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (v. 15)

Perfect love is found only in Christ. Believers have no greater friend than Christ. The greatest demonstration of perfect love and perfect friendship is when Christ laid down his life for us. Isn’t that amazing?

#5 Jesus chose all believers to be his friends.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you..”   (v.16)

Jesus picked us out from the crowd. He taps us on our shoulder and wants to be associated with us. He is not embarrassed to be seen with us. He listens to us intently. He cares for us passionately. He is perfectly trustworthy and forever has our back.

Jesus separates us from the world and leads those who remain in him down the narrow road and through the small gate to be with him forever.

#6 Because Jesus has chosen all believers to be his friends, they are going to be hated by the world.

“..you do not belong to the world, but I have chose you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”  (v. 19)

Rejection hurts. We desire to belong. We long to be liked, accepted, acknowledged, and befriended. By trusting in Christ and remaining in his love, believers are going to be marked, persecuted and hated. Believers ought to accept this promise from Christ and not be surprised when it happens.

Despite the tugs to be accepted, loved – or feel like you belong – by the world, remember that nothing in this world can come close to what Christ will deliver in heaven. Remain in him.

#7 A believer’s life in Christ is a testimony for Christ.

“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.”  (v. 26-27)

Always be prepared and ready to provide an answer for the hope we have in Christ. When believers step out in faith to share the gospel with others, they share the words of Christ. The words will not be their own, but they will come from the Spirit of truth, our Advocate, who lives and reigns in them.

Fruits of the Spirit that display itself in our life in Christ are produced from the Spirit. Trusting Christ’s promises prepares us to be his witnesses.

Testifying the truth of Christ can only be produced from the Spirit of truth who gives us the words to say. Remaining in Christ’s promises prepares us to be his witnesses.

Praise and Proclaim updates:

I had the privilege and joy to present at the recent WELS Staff Ministers Conference held at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Niles, IL (April 25-27). After the presentation, it was fun to lead over thirty WELS staff ministers canvassing to verbally proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in the surrounding neighborhoods. Even though teams were only given a window of forty-five minutes to an hour, we rejoice that the Lord opened enough doors for us to plant the seeds of the gospel 75 times. We pray that the training may serve to enhance the gospel ministries of these faithful servants who are serving in various capacities through the U.S.

On April 10th, I had the privilege to lead training at E-Day Action Day at Martin Luther College in New Ulm, MN. It was impressive to see the number of students arrive even though the canvassing component of the training had to be cancelled due to the severe winter weather. (see link “The New Ulm Adventure“) Even though the weather forecasted another winter storm, the Lord allowed the rescheduled canvassing to take place on Saturday, April 28th.  Twenty-five MLC students went out and knocked on over seven hundred doors in New Ulm and verbally proclaimed the gospel to 157 souls. During the debriefing time, the students were grateful for the experience and energized by the number of positive responses they received at the door. May the Lord bless this experience and enhance the student’s training to be future called servants.  

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Starting spiritual conversations

Most people consider themselves spiritual. There is a desire for inner peace, harmony with body and soul, or a reconnection with a higher power. While many spiritual paths are offered, few provided satisfying solutions. And sadly, there is a growing reluctance to seek out a Christian church to find answers.

We seem to be arriving at a time to employ evangelism strategies that emphasizes individual believers to go and get the Word out rather that inviting people to come and hear the Word.

How can we start spiritual conversations with people who don’t know Christ?

Making new year resolutions that are lasting

I listened to a podcast recently about why people complain so much.

In the big picture, many of our complaints can appear inconsequential. It’s an outward cry of an inward focus on thoughts and attitudes.

Let’s confess that our human nature is drawn to look at what the world has to offer to solve what we believe is essential in our lives. 

Witnessing Christ during Christmas

Christmas is the best time of the year.

It’s the season with the greatest opportunities to proclaim the message of Good News to ears that are more willing than usual to listen.

The statistics prove it.

Words God gives us when confronting fear

When confronted with fear, feeling overwhelmed, tempted to give up or give in, we are given these words from God:

Don’t fear

Stand firm

You will see

These are not buzzwords but promises.

Words glistening with meaning and power.

Not just suggestions, but assurances given in the face of adversity.

These words are perfectly reliable because they come from a perfect God who sees the big picture.

A Way to Start a Spiritual Conversation

Words matter.

With eyes of wonder, believers in Christ grasp on to the words of grace, redemption, and justification. These words define the Christian faith.

The meaning behind these words appear obvious to the faithful but may have an entirely different connotation to an unbelieving world.

And this chasm of misunderstanding is growing wider.

It’s becoming more challenging to verbally express the hope believers have in Christ when they rely on meaningful Christian terminology to express their faith.

To proclaim Christ in today’s world, it may be helpful to bring a dictionary.

Slingshots or Silence

God works through his Word to create faith in the hearts of unbelievers.

His Word is like a weapon used in warfare. It cuts like a double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12) and explodes like dynamite (Romans 1:16).

One of the greatest weapons ever used in the Bible is a profound example for believers who unleash the power of his Word by proclaiming it to others.

A slingshot.

Encouraging News for Evangelism

Well-publicized reports reveal the growing number of the irreligious in America. More people are choosing to stay home rather than go to church on Sunday mornings. The world is rapidly transforming in this information age and congregations are constantly finding themselves readjusting their outreach strategies to best communicate the gospel.

Out of the fog of uncertainty, there is some great news for evangelism. People are far more willing to hear the hope that we have in Christ than we think. Recent studies and personal experience are confirming this to be true.