Boldly Sharing the Amazing Love of Christ

In addition to our monthly ministry outreach to the homeless at the men and women’s shelters downtown, I occasionally have the privilege of speaking at the Thursday morning devotional time at the Union Gospel Mission Dallas. The audience is a mix of staff, disciples, prospects, and clients. The time is always rewarding and a time of great blessing to me. It is always good to see God at work in and through the lives of the last, least, lost and lonely homeless population here in Dallas. The Union Gospel Mission began as a street ministry in 1949 when a group of Christian businessmen took to the streets of Dallas, telling the poor about God’s love for them. The Mission has continued to grow and prosper in the years since, reaching countless men and women for Christ, transforming thousands upon thousands of lives, and continuously shining the light of the Gospel downtown.

After lifting our voices in song and hearing a number of testimonies about how God is impacting the lives of all those present this morning, we opened God’s Word, examining and exploring the Apostle Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians, Chapter 5.

2 Corinthians 5:1-21 (ESV)

5 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil

11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

We are born with a longing, a God-sized hole in our soul that only the Lord himself can satisfy. Paul assures us that the Lord is faithful, and that He has prepared for us an eternal home, free of the burdens of this world. Even though life is difficult, Paul exhorts us not to be dismayed, but to remain steadfast in our courage. Yes, we long to be with God. But until then, He has given us His Spirit to make the journey with us. We are not alone. He has not forgotten us. God has not forsaken us. To the contrary, He supplies us with everything we need to overcome the trials and tribulations we face. Through Jesus Christ, God has already won the victory for us. God gave His son, Jesus Christ, so that we might live in Christ, and Christ alone.

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Because of what God has done, we have a mission and a purpose. We proclaim the Gospel–the Good News—-and demonstrate the love of Christ, through our words and our deeds. Love, after all, is a verb. Love is an action. Often times, the only Good Book people will read is in how they see us live out the grace God has bestowed upon us. We are Christ’s, no doubt. He has bought us with His blood. He controls us. We cannot keep quiet about the grace and mercy he has showered down on us. We have to shout it from the tallest building. We must proclaim it from the highest mountain. The Good News of what Christ has done for us must travel as far as the East is from the West.

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We live for the one who died for us. We are new creations. Behold the old has passed away and the new has come. We are ambassadors for Christ Jesus and the Good News His crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection secured. In this generation, you and I may be the only Gospel anyone sees and hears. Shine brightly, speak boldly.

Continue to walk by faith, not by sight.

Amen.

 

Photos courtesy of the fine artists at Pixabay.com

The Innkeeper of Your Heart

The Birth of Jesus Christ

Luke 2:1-7 (ESV)

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town.  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

No doubt many of us will hear the Christmas Story over this holiday season. The real story—-not the one about Old Saint Nick, Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, the Grinch, or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. While these well-known, beloved fables are great, they are fictional stories.

I know some of you are sitting there thinking so is the story about Jesus. But that’s actually not true. Sure, they haven’t found his body. Why would they? Jesus rose from the dead and ascended back into Heaven. Odds aren’t really good on finding his corpse. But hey…this is Christmas, not Easter.

Christmas focuses on the Incarnation—the birth of Jesus, over 2,000 years ago.

Bible Study time

As part of maintaining my own blog, I read tons of different blogs written by other writers on a wide array of subjects. This helps me get a sense of what people are talking about. My blog focuses on faith, writing, and recovery. As many of you know, by the grace of God, I’ve been in recovery, clean and sober for over 22 years, since August 12, 1995. Naturally, faith, writing, and recovery are subjects that are important to me.

Recently I came across a post asking readers how what someone believes about God influences them in the workplace. Interesting question. Unfortunately, it was met with a ton of negative answers. Answers included “who cares”, “it shouldn’t”, “why does it matter?”, and “what’s god?”. That’s just a sampling. No one really offered a counter response. To many of the readers the story of Jesus was as much of a fairy tale as the story of Santa Claus. In our world today, a lot of people believe that Jesus is made up and there is no evidence that he ever existed. No evidence? Seriously?

We have an abundance of evidence, staring with Scripture itself. Scripture records at least ten occurrences of Jesus revealing himself to his followers. In one of his letters to the Corinthian church, the Apostle Paul reminds them of what he and others have seen.

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The Resurrection of Christ

1 Corinthians 15:1-8 (NIV)

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

Oh, but you can’t use the Bible to prove the Bible is true. Okay. If you say so…

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While there is limited archaeological evidence that Jesus existed, a number of Greek and Roman writers mention Jesus in their writings recording historical events during the time period that Jesus and his disciples lived. Cornelius Tacitus, a Roman senator, orator and ethnographer, and arguably the most trustworthy Roman historian, mentions Jesus in his writings. As does Josephus, the leading Jewish historian of the time. From their writings, and that of many others, we can reasonably deduce that Jesus was a real person who lived and walked the Earth.

Furthermore, if you visit Israel and walk through Jerusalem and the towns around the Sea of Galilee, like Capernaum, you will discover evidence of Jesus’ time on Earth. You can visit the site of his crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. You can explore where he and the disciples had the Last Supper. You can visit Bethlehem and read the story of Luke 2 (as I had the privilege of doing a number of years ago) at the actual site believed to be the place where Christ was born. While you won’t find “Jesus was here” carved into the olive trees at Gethsemane, you’ll sense His presence in the garden where he prayed frequently and fervently.

The evidence for Jesus exists.

You just need to ask God to open your spiritual eyes to see.

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Personally, I experience Jesus every day. When I look in the mirror, I see evidence of Christ’s atoning work. After all, it is only because of God’s grace, through Jesus Christ,  that I stand, a man saved. But for Jesus, I would not be here. He reached down and pulled me from the pit, rescuing me from certain spiritual death.

I see Jesus every day. How about you?

Each of us serves as the innkeeper of our heart.

Is there enough room in yours to let Jesus in?

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