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Can You Trust the Bible? Digging Deeper into the Word

Gospel Confidence: In an Age of Fear and Shame

Author: Charles Hegwood

Have you ever had this happen? You are talking to a friend and then an opportunity for the gospel pops into the conversation. Suddenly you are filled with a sense of dread and stress that you know you shouldn’t be feeling. You may later try to assess why you felt this way. Could it be shame? It could. Could it be fear about what to say? It could. Either way a good reminder for us today was captured by the apostle Paul almost 2,000 years ago. Paul reminds us why we should not be ashamed, but instead empowered by the gospel. That was his motivation and that should be our’s as well.  

Romans 1:15-17 is a well-known passage of Scripture. And it is vital for us in our gospel endeavors. Paul reminds us that we should be eager to share the gospel and unashamed of it because the gospel is the power and righteousness of God to save those who believe.  

Eagerness to Share the Gospel  

In verse 14, Paul told the Romans that he was obligated to share the gospel with Gentiles. This obligation is not one of burden but of mission. Like Paul, we do not remain on this Earth to simply exist and enjoy life, instead we have a mission; a gospel mission. For Paul this mission gave him an eagerness to share the gospel with the Gentiles in Rome. He longed to strengthen their faith. We never move beyond the beauty and power of the gospel. More on that later. Back to Paul. Paul was eager to get to Rome and preach the gospel. A mark of a healthy disciple is one who is eager to share the gospel with those around them. Gospel sharing is our mission. If you were wondering what to do with your life, or what God called you to do, it is simple and clear: Share the gospel with as many people as you can. And be eager to do so.  

Confident in the Gospel  

Maybe today you would say you are eager, but like I mentioned above you sometimes become nervous and maybe a little ashamed when sharing the gospel. I get nervous sometimes when I have a chance to share the gospel too. Paul’s letter to the Romans in general and these few verses in particular encourage me and I hope they encourage you as well. Why? Paul said the gospel is the “power of God.” We should not fear sharing the gospel because the power of God is displayed in it. We see that through the gospel, God has the power over sin and death. There is nothing that can overwhelm or overtake God. After all, Paul said that the gospel is the power of God to save. The gospel’s power saves a lost and dying people from a lost and dying world.  

Do not be ashamed and do not fear telling a lost and dying world there is hope in the gospel. The hope of the gospel does not balance on our ability or eloquence, though those are nice, but instead the power of the gospel rests on the shoulders of our mighty God. The gospel is His power to save. It is our mission to share it. So when you feel ashamed or when you feel fear when sharing the gospel, remind yourself of this great reality. Remind yourself of Romans 1:16. I am convinced that when we do remember that the gospel is the power of God to save, we will have confidence to share with our friends and family.  

The Scope of the Gospel 

We should be confident in sharing the gospel because it is God’s power to save. But save whom we may ask. “To save everyone who believes.” Paul talked about his obligation in verse 14, and we can call that mission. Paul talked about his eagerness in verse 15 and we can call that motivation. He talks about his confidence in the gospel as the power of God in verse 16, and we can call that encouragement. Then he expressed his hope and scope of the gospel. Paul’s motivation and confidence is that God has the power to save all that come to Him in faith. It is our mission, confidence and motivation to take that power and hope to all people. The scope of the gospel is global. It knows no cultural or geographical boundaries. “First to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” Here ‘gentile’ means the rest of the world. Paul here is not creating a new scope for a new message either. The Old Testament always showed God as having a global scope to His mercy and grace. The only thing that is new is the new covenant which is grounded in the blood of Jesus. It is with this gospel that we can go to all people with confidence!  

Hope of the Gospel 

 “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.” Our confidence to share the gospel is in our hope of the gospel. We see that the gospel is the revelation of God’s righteousness and goodness. We can be confident and unashamed because when we share the gospel we are doing more than just speaking mere words. We are revealing the righteousness, justice, and moral uprightness of God to a lost and broken world. That should inspire hope that in the sharing of the gospel the light of God shines on a dark world. Have hope as you tell people about the powerful gospel that we have an eagerness to share.   

Go In Gospel Confidence 

This is just skimming the surface of this great and deep passage of Scripture. Even in skimming we should be encouraged in our gospel ventures. Again, this is a great reminder that when we feel ashamed or fear concerning the proclamation of the gospel, we must remember what the gospel is. The gospel should drive our mission and eagerness to tell others about this great truth. It is the power and righteousness of God to save all that come to Him. We are to go to all people and introduce them to the power of God and the hope within. Let these thoughts drive you to go to friends and family and tell them of the God who has the power to save all that come to Him. Do not be ashamed of the gospel, be empowered and emboldened by it.  

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Digging Deeper into the Word Prayer Spiritual Development

Prescription for Peace

Author: Rachel Kidd 

Blessings 

Since the dawn of time, people have waged war and wished peace on each other. In the midst of feast and famine, peace and war, Believers in the early church pronounced blessings of grace, peace, and mercy. In the years that followed, followers of Christ continued this tradition of blessings of peace, especially in the most trying times.. This Gaelic Blessing is an excellent example of this emphasis on the peace that comes with Christ.  

Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the gentle night to you.
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you.
Deep peace of Christ, of Christ the light of the world to you.
Deep peace of Christ to you.
A Gaelic Blessing
God of Peace 

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. – Isaiah 26:3 

In the Old Testament book Isaiah, we are told that there are two conditions that must be met before God can bless us with peace. First, we must keep our minds steadfast, or resolute in our faith, and we must fully and completely trust in Him.  

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:6-8  

In Philippians 4, Paul shares his practical advice for daily Christian living; a prescription for peace. He is talking about the peace of God, not world peace, rather the kind of perfect, personal peace that can only come through God.  

 Like Isaiah, Paul prescribes us twelve additional conditions we must meet in order for God to grant us His perfect peace.  

  1. Do not worry about anything.  

Paul was shackled in filthy, painful conditions in a Roman prison, beaten, whipped, and stoned. Paul was shipwrecked and blinded, experiencing all the horrors of persecution at the hands of the Romans. Yet, he did not worry because he relied on God’s grace.   

  1. Pray about everything.  

Sometimes prayer will deliver us from the pain we are experiencing, sometimes it will not. God sometimes chooses to give grace to live through the difficulty, the ability to endure it for His glory. 

  1. Think about good things.  

We are to control thoughts instead of letting them control us, not only for peace, but for sanity. To dwell on things that are unjust, painful, or impure only makes us feel discouraged and low. Even in the most difficult circumstances, thinking of good things that praise God will be uplifting to our soul.   

  1. Do what is right.  

Paul encouraged the Philippians to follow his example and live in a way that is right in the eyes of God. He tells them to do what they know and believe to be good and right.  

  1. Do not question the value of the good you have done.  

It can be difficult to live righteously and suffer in poverty, pain, or sickness while watching immoral, evil people live in comfort and wealth. But Paul reminds us that even if our good works are not rewarded on earth, we will be rewarded in heaven.   

  1. Be thankful.  

In prison, beaten and alone, Paul had two choices. He could grieve his unfortunate circumstances, or he could thank God for what he did have. He was alive and able to commune with the Lord, and so he chose to thank God for the opportunity to spend so much time with Him. We have that same choice too in our own difficult circumstances.  

  1. Be gentle.  

When we accept even our most difficult circumstances as the will of God instead of fighting against them, we can be at peace. This gentleness is of acceptance, understanding that we are a part of God’s plan.  

  1. Be patient.  

We have to learn to wait on the Lord, even when we don’t understand His ways or His plan for our life.  

  1. Remember the nearness of our Lord.  

The Lord always stands by us, even when others desert us. Paul was never alone, even when everyone he knew abandoned him, God never left his side. Remembering that our God is near brings us peace when we are lonely or afraid.  

  1. Find joy in knowing Christ and growing closer to Him.  

Our relationship with God should bring us joy as we learn about Him, bringing us peace rather than relying on the unreliable joy of earthly things.  

  1. Value the approval of God, far above that of others.  

The approval of man is conditional and fleeting, but walking in the way of the Lord means peace.  

  1. Rest your hearts and minds in Christ, knowing that He can do what you cannot do.  

It’s not what I am, it’s what He is. It’s not what I can do, it’s what He can do.  

God wants you to find true and lasting peace in Him. While the Western mind typically operates in “either, or” categories, the Eastern mind operates with the understanding of “both, and” categories. While God is a God of righteous wrath and judgment, He is also a God of peace.  May His peace rest upon you knowing that he wages war against the evil one on your behalf. 

Utilize this list from the Great Physician as a blessing and medicine for your soul in the midst of the battle. 

Categories
Digging Deeper into the Word Spiritual Development Studying the Bible

The Grace of Giving

Author: Rachel Kidd

Paul’s teaching about Christian stewardship 

Money is a tense subject, something that causes arguments and fights in nearly every relationship. Having too much or too little can put a strain on even the healthiest marriage, and poor money management can lead to immense stress.   

Some pastors even avoid the subject of money altogether in hopes of avoiding this tension. But, good stewardship and understanding of money is an important factor in spiritual wellness. Paul and his ministry provides us with a clear picture of how to teach about money and what good stewardship is in a Christian context.  

Faithful Stewardship 

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.  

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 

 In 2 Corinthians, Paul provides us two of the greatest chapters in the bible on the subject of stewardship. An adept salesman with keen diplomacy skills, Paul persuades Gentiles to give to a collection to benefit persecuted Jews In Jerusalem and Judea. Paul had incredible empathy for these particular persecuted Christians, as they were the primary targets for his own crusade against the church prior to his conversion. While Paul’s ministry was primarily centered on Gentiles, like those at the church in Corinth, Ephesus, and Colossi, he was able to raise an impressive collection for the persecuted Jewish Christian community.  

Paul holds up the giving patterns of the Corinthians, or the Maccedonians, to the Phillipians as an example of faithful stewardship. He tells us about the principles that should be involved in our stewardship.  

Primarily, he says that we must give ourselves to God. Paul did not accept monetary gifts from non-believers on principle, he only accepted gifts from those who were faithful. He asserts that you must keep in the will of God in order to further the will of God.  

Joyful Giving 

As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;  their righteousness endures forever.” 

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. –2 Corinthians 9:9-13  

Paul also says that giving should be of our own volition. He emphasized the importance of giving only when the Lord leads us to, rather than at the coercion of a pastor or spiritual leader. We give because we love Him, because we are grateful for what He has done for us, and because we are full of joy and want to give back to Him. Our motivations should be love and gratitude, joyfully giving back to God a portion of what He has given us. 

It may seem difficult to imagine giving joyfully when you are not financially blessed. Maybe you are struggling, much like the Phillippians in poverty. They gave out of their severe poverty in a time of trials. Paul says that their giving was based on what they had, not what they did not have. God blesses us with money as He sees fit and with whom He can trust us with. If you have little now and do not tithe 10% as commanded, then you will not give more if you had more.  

Paul explains that our gifts are not measured by their size or worth, rather on the attitude with which we give. Paul called giving a “grace” because we are enabled to give by His power and blessings on our lives. It’s proportional to what we have, not to what we could have. All that we have is God’s, we are simply stewards of it, called to further the kingdom of God with our wealth. When we give freely to God what He has given to us, God responds to our good stewardship. God provides for us and makes sure that we have all we need. When we give of our own volition in joy, God sees us and blesses us in return.  

 

Categories
Digging Deeper into the Word Studying the Bible

What Would Jesus Do?

Author: Rachel Kidd

Growing up in the renaissance of Western cultural evangelicalism, I remember nearly everyone I knew had all the trappings of Jesus-freak culture. We wore our WWJD bracelets with pride, a physical reminder to ourselves and to everyone else, that we were Christians and proud to be so.  

But, I began to realize that wearing a bracelet does not a good Christian make. Wearing a WWJD bracelet doesn’t inherently make me good or Christ-like. In fact, the bracelet alone doesn’t even make me a Christian. Neither does a Jesus-fish on the back of your car, a Third Day t-shirt, a Bible verse in your Instagram bio, or even regular church attendance on Sundays.   

Christianity was born long before American material culture. It began with the birth of a baby in a manger in the modern heart of the Palestinian West Bank, in Bethlehem.   

Jesus was a poor carpenter, a friend to fisherman and prostitutes, an advocate for the silenced, and healer of the sick. If Jesus had been born today, would He be nestled in luxury in the U.S.? I’d argue that He wouldn’t. In fact He would likely be born in the middle of the conflict in the Middle East, gunfire and bomb explosions; modern warfare marking His entrance into the world. Forced from their homes, Jesus and His parents might be nation-less refugees searching for safety in neighboring countries, just like they fled to Egypt in the wake of Herod’s violent anger.  

What does it mean to be a Christian?  

The bible tells us that Jesus is the model for a perfect, godly life. We are called to pursue a Christ-like life as His disciples, a life-long pursuit of holiness that can only be found through a relationship with Jesus.  

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 

“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 

–1 Peter 2:21-23 

Because Jesus lived a perfect life and sacrificed Himself on the cross, to be followers of Christ we are asked to follow in His steps. To be a Christian means to live like Jesus.  

What does it mean to live like Jesus?  

In 1 Peter, we see that living like Jesus means rebuking sin and being truthful. While it is impossible to live a perfect, sinless life, we should be striving for that ideal. As we grow closer to Christ through scripture reading, Christian community, and prayer, we find ourselves becoming more like Him.  

 Jesus is the Word 

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  

2 Timothy 3:16-17 

Timothy tells us that scripture is the key to training us to become good Christians. All scripture is God-breathed, meaning that it comes from the source of all truth. It is a tool to teach us, to guide us in the way of righteousness, and equip us for what God has called us to.  

Jesus is Life 

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  

Hebrews 4:12 

In order to use the scriptures as God intended, as a living sword designed to penetrate into our hearts and judge our darkest thoughts, we must be good students of the Word. Understanding scripture and meditating in the word of God  

Jesus Relied on the Spirit 

We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.  

Acts 5:32 

In Acts, Paul emphasizes the importance of the Holy Spirit. He says that the power of the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity, is given to those who obey God. When we live in obedience to the scripture, we are sanctified and filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit.  

In the New Testament, we see evidence of this gift in early believers through their ability to speak in tongues. Speaking in tongues is a spiritual gift, enabling the believer to speak in languages that they were unable to before. These can be earthly or heavenly languages, a sign to everyone who can hear that you are filled with the spirit.  

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.  

Acts 2:4 

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  

1 Corinthians 13:1 

However, speaking in tongues is not the sole evidence of being spirit-filled. This verse tells us that this ability means nothing without love. This incredible miraculous gift is worth nothing more than mere noise without love. 

Jesus Decreased so that the Father Might Increase 

He must increase; I must decrease.  

John 3:30 

 In order to grow in our faith and become more like Jesus, John tells us that we must decrease in order for God to increase in us. To be more like Christ, we are called to become less sinful, less selfish and proud, and to be more loving, gentle and faithful.  

 To become less is not to be less of who you are, like your personality or passions, rather it means to work actively against your sinful nature and pursue holiness. As we are sanctified, or becoming more like Jesus, we are allowing Him to increase in our lives. We can see and experience the goodness God has to offer as our thoughts and desires align with His.  

Sanctification requires faith and daily diligence, spending time in the Word and in prayer. It means having a supportive community of fellow believers, like iron sharpens iron, who will hold you accountable to your faith. It means living in love, forgiving those that hurt you, giving freely, and pursuing peace.