When God Says, “Don’t Mention Me.”

Sometimes the best strategic move we can make in witnessing to someone about Christ is… not to mention Him.

The other day I was at our local grocery store, standing in line at the cashier stand with about 15 items loaded onto the conveyor belt. It was a busy time of day, all of the cashiers had a line of customers waiting to be served. A gentleman stepped into line behind me, he looked like he had been working hard that day, his work clothes being adorned with fresh dirt, grease, and oil. In his hand was a single item for purchase.

I casually suggested that he could go before me in the line, instead of waiting for all of my stuff to be scanned and purchased. He acknowledged with a nod and stepped in front of me. As he was paying the cashier, he turned to me and said, “That’s the first nice thing that has happened to me today. Thank You for letting me go ahead of you.”

He said it not too loud, but it was enough for the people around our cashier to hear it. Another man chimed-in with an encouraging word to the gentleman, and there were lots of smiles as we all engaged him for a moment. The gentlemen’s facial expression and his tone confirmed to us that he really was having a bad day up to that moment.

For just a second or two in time, I thought to myself how I might engage him conversationally with the hopes of sharing some even better news with him about Christ. Not preaching, not in-your-face, just a casual word or two, or just even a hint of the Lord.

Before I said anything further, I felt a gentle nudge in my spirit that simply communicated to me, “Don’t mention Me.”

He thanked all of us again for our small gestures and words of kindness, he picked up his single item and walked toward the door.

As I pondered the scene on my way back home, I was reminded of a passage in the scriptures that the Apostle Paul penned:

“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose… For we are co-workers in Godʼs service…”

~ 1 Corinthians‬ ‭3:6-9‬‬‬‬

Accepting Christ Proceeds From A Process

When someone turns their life over to Christ, it is almost always the result of a process over time, not just an instantaneous hear-believe-saved moment. There will be people in their life that God used to break up the hardened soil of their heart, and others who planted the seeds of life, and still others that came along and watered those seeds. It is God who oversees the whole process, from beginning to end.

My role in the gentlemen’s life at the grocery store may have been to help break up the hardened soil of his heart with a simple gesture of kindness and thoughtfulness. No, it won’t be the critical moment of his salvation, but it may be one experience of many that eventually culminates in his entry into a new life in Christ.

Maybe the next believer he encounters will have the role of planting some seeds, then later another person to water those seeds. We cannot limit ourselves to only doing the BIG things that will result in the BIGGEST outcomes (though those moments certainly are wonderful to see). We are co-workers with each other and with God, and God is the one who is overseeing the gentlemen’s progress through the process of attaining faith and a new life in Christ.

Who knows, maybe the next person that I encounter will have already been served by a number of others, and I will have the privilege and joy of being there to lead him in his final step of faith, to accept Christ.

An Example of When The Spirit Says Not to Preach

During his missionary journeys, the Apostle Paul encountered times when he was directed by the Holy Spirit not to speak, and even not to visit. Sometimes he was given a reason, and at other times no reason was given (at least that we know of from his writings). For example,

“Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.”

~ ‭‭Acts‬ ‭16:6-7‬

Even more important than our willingness to go anywhere under any circumstances to preach the gospel, is our willingness and sensitivity to hear the Holy Spirit direct us to go here, don’t go there; say this, don’t say that; do it now, don’t do it yet; do it this way, don’t do it that way. After all, in ministry we are not doing things for God, we are doing things with God, and He is our Commander and King.

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#PastorsTip #Christian #Faith #Salvation #GrowingInFaith #Witnessing #BeingSilent #Planting #Watering #GodGivesGrowth

God’s Full Anticipation of Our Full Participation

The scriptures analogically refer to life’s spiritual conflicts as forms of military combat and sporting competition, and to us believers as soldiers and athletes.

If we could see with our physical eyes what we look like spiritually, would we see ourselves as genuine carriers of the “marks of Christ” (as the Apostle Paul said that he did)?

“… for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.”‭‭

~ Paul, Galatians‬ ‭6:17‬

Would we see a fresh application of the blood of Jesus Christ to our life, mixed with our own fresh blood from the wounds received in victorious combat? Would we see upon us scars from battles where [with Christ] we had won hard-fought victories in the recent past?

Some fellow believers do not like the analogies [for the spiritual life] of combat and sporting competition, of soldiers and athletes. To them, it sounds too violent or too physical, and not intelligent or sophisticated enough.

However, there are very good reasons why scripture frequently uses the combat and sporting analogies:

  • Life is dangerous,
  • Life is strenuous,
  • Life is competitive,
  • Life can end with eternal death, and
  • Life is an intense war filled with battles.

This particular war has no allowance for “conscientious objectors” or for “pacifists.” Granted, how we engage in the war can and should be prayerfully considered and discussed, but a rejection of participating in this “war” or this “competition” is not acceptable in the eyes of God.

Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, inspiring them to have a clear perspective and mindset, not one of pacifism but of spiritual combat when participating in the full realm of life:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devilʼs schemes.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then…

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lordʼs people.”

‭‭~ Ephesians‬ ‭6:10-18‬

We have been provided “the full armor of God” (or in the sporting analogy, the ‘football gear of God’) complete with “weapons of warfare” (that have Divine fire-power) with God’s full anticipation of our full participation!

See you at the altar of prayer, my friends. It’s time for war!

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#PastorsTip #War #Weapons #Armor #SpiritualWarfare #Athlete #Soldier #ConscientiousObjection #Pacifism #Prayer

To My Muslim Friends

The God of Abraham (Jehovah) is not the same as Allah, even if a Muslim declares it so.

Jesus, whom you revere as a prophet (but not as the crucified and resurrected Son of God) spoke to some Jews who claimed that their God was also Jehovah. Jesus pointed clearly to the fact that just because one claims to follow the God of Abraham does not mean that it is in reality true of them.

“Jesus replied, ‘If I glorify Myself, My glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies Me.

Though you do not know Him, I know Him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know Him and obey His word.

Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing My day; he saw it and was glad.’”

~ John‬ ‭8:54-56‬

Following the God of Abraham means more than a religious adherence. It involves a love and an obedience (from the heart) to God’s words, spoken through His Son, Jesus Christ. This is absolutely true for everyone, regardless of their culture or religious heritage.

Even Christians who believe that Jehovah is the God of Abraham, and believe that Jesus Christ is His crucified and resurrected Son, must also obey the word of God. Without obedience to the One True God, there is no hope, there is no forgiveness, there is no salvation, there will be no Heaven after this life.

The Bible clearly states that even demons believe that Jehovah is the God of Abraham, and yet they shudder with fear at the enormity of His true identity, and they have no hope and no future.

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”

~ James‬ ‭2:19‬

My Muslim Friends, I do not despise you for any reason, or because of your current religion and participation in Islam. You are my fellow human beings. You know pain like I do, you know sickness like I do, you know the weight of the guilt from sin like I used to. Yes, past tense regarding sin.

Through Jesus Christ and His Father, the God of Abraham, I have experienced the power of God that brings life into the soul. There are many religions in this world, but only a sincere heart-acceptance of Abraham’s God and His Son, Jesus Christ, has the power to break the hold and the guilt of sin.

I know you believe in the practice of prayer. As a Muslim, you have no doubt prayed many, many times. However, if Allah has not responded to your prayers and brought peace into your heart, perhaps it is because you have been addressing your prayers to the wrong god.

Try praying the following out loud:

🔹”I pray to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I pray to the God that created the universe, and created me.
🔹Please, reveal Yourself to me in a way that I will know it is really You. I want to know the One True God of the universe.
🔹And if Jesus Christ is Your Son (and was crucified and died upon a cross, and resurrected from the dead for the forgiveness of my sins) please, I want to know the truth.
🔹I want to know The True God that will give to me true, eternal life, forgiveness for my sin, and peace.”

Now, look forward to hearing from The One True God!

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#PastorsTip #Muslim #Islam #Jesus #Christ #Forgiveness #Allah #Jehovah #Abraham

A Loving Desperation for God

When is the right time to become desperate for more–for all–of God?  While it certainly is the right time to seek Him with absolute diligence when we face a trial of enormous potential consequence (cancer, divorce, bankruptcy, etc.), the most critical time for becoming desperate for God–for all of God–is when we do not feel like it.

When we have become numb to the things of His Spirit and His Word, this is the most critical moment that requires a self-awakening and a self-discipline to stir up the fire within us before it goes out completely under the burdens of life.

The Psalmist describes for us a beautiful picture of being desperate for God:

“As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?”

( Psalm 42:1b-2 )

Picture with the Psalmist a deer that has spent its day in the heat and maybe even has run from a predator at one point, and nearing the end of the day it is more than ready for a deep drink of refreshing, cool, life-sustaining and life-restoring water from any of the number of brooks or streams available in its territory.  Imagine the joy and the refreshment that the deer enjoys even as it approaches a water source, smelling the aroma of the fresh water even while still a mile away.  Its anticipation begins to refresh it even before the first drink is taken in.

Our lives have their own challenges and predators.  Sometimes we become so engaged in the battles of life that we forget to drink and hydrate our lives frequently throughout the day with the living streams of God.  Without a steady inflow of the waters of His life our lives become parched, thirsty, and eventually even numb to the thirst that our souls so desperately need to have quenched.

In the second verse the Psalmist asks himself when will he “appear before God.”  This reference includes the idea of appearing before God’s Face, a face-to-face meeting which brings to mind the kind of relationship that Moses had with God.  Moses would meet with God face-to-face (so to speak) as a friend meets with a friend.  Their relationship was very special.  This is the kind of relational encounter the Psalmist is asking himself about, when will he drink deep of the waters of God and present himself before God with a loving desperation to know Him more, and for God to know him more in a relational way?

The bottom line is this: out of our love for God, let us all cultivate a loving desperation for God, not only a desperation to know about Him, but to know Him personally.  Through the Cross of Christ we may approach our Heavenly Father with utmost confidence (Hebrews 4:15-16).  As you anticipate approaching Him in the minutes or hours to come, can’t you already smell the aroma of the fresh streams of God’s living water that flows from His Presence?  Like the deer anticipating its water, let us anticipate our time of face-to-face with God.

See you at the altar, my friends.

#PastorsTip