Sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ

One of the last words Jesus said while he was physically here was for us to go into the world and make disciples. Known as the Great Commission, it is a command from our Creator to preach the gospel to all people. Why is this so important?  Because all people struggle with sin.

The Bible says that we all sin and fall short of God’s glory, but Jesus offers us forgiveness through His finished work on the cross. Through His life, death, burial, and resurrection, we are offered the free gift of eternal life in Heaven. This is the Good News or Gospel. There’s nothing more important than this.

So why is it so hard to talk about this with strangers?  Why is it even harder to share the Gospel with friends, coworkers, and especially family?  How do you do it right?

First off, understand that many people don’t want to think about change. We naturally find a comfort zone that we live in. Anything that interferes with that comfort is an enemy, even if we have found comfort in pain.

When we are challenged by the gospel of Jesus Christ, it provokes us to do something. Once you learn something, you can’t unknow it, you must deal with it somehow. Knowing that Jesus is Lord and Savior changes our game. You must accept it or reject it, knowing that there are consequences either way. You WILL lose something of yourself when you choose, either you need to turn away from your sins or you turn away from your Creator and any hope for a Heaven.

While that sounds like a simple choice, it isn’t. There will never be a more important one though. It’s something that people have a tough time with due to what the Bible calls a sin that so easily besets us. We all have struggles with sins that harass ourselves. It is so much easier just to give in, but Jesus says that the road to hell is wide and there are many who travel it. It is a much harder road we travel when we do what’s right.

That statement is true for the Christian and non-Christian alike. Sin is not something that just goes away when we accept Christ. The stain of sin is blotted out, but the cravings remain in many cases. Just like a nail in a board, you can remove the nail, but there will be a hole that needs filled.

When we try to share the gospel, the devil attacks us, bringing the memory of our sins to mind. We think to ourselves that we are not worthy because we, too, are sinners. That uneasiness translates into a barrier to sharing the good news of Jesus. We get concerned that we might offend someone or cause a fight. We get concerned because what if they ask a question that I can’t answer about Jesus or Christianity? What if they ask about my own sins?

We relate a rejection of the gospel to a rejection of ourselves, and humans have a hard time with rejection. This is especially true when it pertains to sharing the gospel with family members. We can talk effortlessly with our family, but if you become a believer in Jesus, you suddenly stand out. You’ve changed. You’re not the same old person they knew and now on top of that, you maybe come off somewhat hypocritically. “Who is this person telling me to turn from their sins? Do they think we’ll forget all the stuff they did?”

Don’t ever let your own insecurities get between a soul and Jesus Christ!

Jesus takes the old and broken, then makes it new. That works to our advantage, because who better than a former alcoholic, for instance, to tell people of the dangers of alcohol abuse? You can trust a witness who has faced the problem and lived through it. Jesus healed you and He can do the same for anyone.

If you love your family members, you want healing for them. You would rush to tell your family member to seek medical treatment if they had cancer or something wrong, so why not the Good News of Jesus as well? Through sin, a member of your family is running headlong off a cliff. Don’t just tell them, scream it at them! They are family, so don’t stop unless they are safe.

Also, and here is a significant point, as a human being we all have a common creator. That makes all people of all races and creeds our family. Jesus died for all people to take their sins away. Jesus is for the whole world. God is our Creator and our Heavenly Father.

Understand that just as a sculptor or artist signs their work, you and I bear the marks of our creator. We have a God-sized hole in ourselves that can only be filled with Jesus Christ. We try to fill our lives with all kinds of excitement, sex, drug and alcohol, or even food, but we can’t consume enough of what we think is “the good stuff” to fill that hole inside. We need Jesus. He truly is “the good stuff” that our bodies, minds, and souls crave.

We need His Holy Spirit to take up residence within ourselves, because nothing else will do. When you realize that fact, it becomes easier to share the gospel with others, knowing that they need Jesus worse than they need water. The Bible says that Jesus is living water and whoever drinks of that water will never truly thirst. Indeed, the water He gives us becomes in us a spring of water welling up to eternal life. People need that eternal life, so don’t deny them their Jesus.

There’s an old saying that goes “the truth sells itself.” Jesus said that He is the way, the truth, and the life. As a born-again Christian, you always have Him, the truth, with you. That truth is the only way to Heaven and eternal happiness. That is a pearl of great price. Who wouldn’t gladly receive such a huge gift?

The Bible says don’t worry about what to say, because the Holy Spirit will speak for you. The words you will use when sharing the gospel are not your words at all, they are God’s words. When the time comes, just open your mouth and start talking. Plant the seed knowing that God will give the increase. I’ve shared Jesus with a lot of people, but I’ve never saved anyone’s soul. That’s not something you or I can do, but God alone. So, share Jesus with everyone you can.

In short, we are to be disciples making disciples. And on that glorious day when time gives way to eternity, you will walk into the throne room of Heaven, see some of those same faces gathered there, and our precious Lord will say, “Well done! Well done, my good and faithful servant. Now at last, enter into the joy of your Master’s house.”

God’s blessings to you.

DH

Know the Will of God in Your Life

Many times in the scriptures we read about the Lord speaking to someone. The problem is that nowadays, we don’t much physically hear God speak to us. That really worries some people.

There are those people who say that until they physically hear God speaking to them, they won’t believe. Unfortunately, those type of people probably still wouldn’t believe even if God himself showed up in person and smacked them in the face.

On the other hand, there are other people that wish they could physically hear their Lord’s voice, but don’t. They long for that tangible interaction with their Savior, but they may never find it until they meet Him in Heaven.

I personally have never physically heard my Lord out loud in this big, booming “Moses” burining bush voice. I do, however, talk with Him often and He answers me plainly. Occasionally, I hear a still, quiet voice inside of myself and it leads me in a certain direction. Many times, I would not have entertained that particular direction in and of myself.

That’s the beauty of the Lord. If you truly leave yourself open to Him and His ways, you could end up accomplishing things you’d never thought possible.

Still, other times there are answers to my prayers and petitions that come in the form of solutions to problems. Solutions that were choreographed just too well. Things that were out of human control or comprehension.

The perfect example of this is our own twin daughters having an inescapable pre-natal problem that was resolved miraculously. I did not truly know what fervent prayer was until those weeks of angush and suffering. Our hope rested in Jesus and Him alone, because we didn’t have anything else.

It is a long story for another time, but I am overjoyed to say that Christ showed His miraculous self and we have beautiful children to stand as living embodiments of His grace and love. You may call it luck or coincidence, but I know that I heard my God as plain as day. I heard Him and saw His love.

The point I’m trying to make is that the more time you spend with our Lord, the closer you will be to Him. And the closer you are, the better you will distingush His answers to your questions. You will know His direction and you couldn’t help but take the path He chooses for you.

When you love someone, you try to know all you can about that person. You don’t just hear them speak, you listen to them. That’s a big measure of a Christian. You may not physically hear God’s voice, but you don’t have to. The more you spend time in His word and the more you pray, the easier it is to see and hear what He has to say. You will know when God is pulling you in a certain direction.

I hear people say, “How do I know that’s what God wants for my life?” You will know when God is answering your prayers or telling you to move in a certain direction with your life because of two things:

1. The direction will never go against God’s commandments.

2. The direction will be for the benefit of God’s people and not only yourself.

If you are confused about your life or not sure if God is speaking to you or not, spend time getting to know Him better. If you can’t find it in yourself to pray, then ask God to help you pray. Pray about praying. It sounds simple, but it’s true.

Next thing is to spend time connecting to God through His word. If you start your day with a “holy hour” with even just 15-20 minutes set aside for Jesus with no distractions, you will be better equipped to answer His voice when He calls. And trust that His plan for your life is better than anything you or I could ever come up with.

You can’t give a response to the Lord’s voice if you don’t know He’s talking to you. If you’re confused as to what God’s will is for your life, listen to Him. Truly listen. Spend time reading His word, meditating on it, and make yourself open to what He has in store for you.

You must be “IN” His Will before you can “DO” His will.

“My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them out of My hand.” – John 10:27-28

God’s blessings to you.

DH

Refire!

Sometimes at a restaurant, the food is not cooked as well as it should be. You’ll often hear a waiter or a cook say “Refire!” That means they need to make the order new and fresh again, otherwise the food won’t be the quality that should be served.

Much like in cooking you may need a refire, Christians sometimes need a refire of our spirit. Otherwise, what we give to God and even what we want in life will be of poor quality as well.

Being a Christian means more than just attending a church building on Sundays. Our lives should be spent in a relationship with God our Father. We need that daily walk with Him to enliven us and strengthen us. You wouldn’t just eat once a week. You shouldn’t go a full week or even a day without being filled by the Holy Spirit.

I’ve found that the less time I spend with Jesus Christ, the more that the devil comes at me from all sides. Either I’m on fire in the Spirit or Satan is hitting me with his own brand of fire. There’s no cooling off period. You’re either going up or you’re going down.

Especially in the past, you would hear of churches doing revivals. That was to get new believers and old Christians fired up for the Lord. We need that sort of thing in our own personal lives as well. You revive things that are passing out or passing away. Take a look at your life. Is it passing away before your eyes?

Jesus says in the book of Revelation that he wished a church was either hot or cold. He then said, “but because you are lukewarm, I spew you out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:16). What a horrible thought, to be rejected so violently by the Savior!

We cannot be lukewarm Christians! We admire people with a passion for art or a passion for sports or anything. Why? Because people who truly care about something put their heart and soul into whatever they are doing. You don’t become an Olympic sprinter by sitting on the couch eating chips. You run. You run fast, you run hard, and you run often.

We will never reach the finish line of Heaven if we don’t get off of the starting block.

Dig deep and set your spirit on fire for Jesus. Even Jesus himself said, “I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning!” (Luke 12:49). My friends, it is time to set the world on fire for Jesus and it all starts with you and I. Right here, right now, we all need a refire for the Lord!

God’s blessings to you.

DH

Happy Easter

“There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12

Since it is Easter, we are reminded today more than most times of the year that Jesus was crucified and died for our sins. It was horrible for all who looked upon the face of the Jesus hanging there on the cross. It is where we get our word ‘excruciating.’

Many people at that time thought that it was the end of their hope of salvation, but Jesus rose again just a few days later. What started as a miracle birth could have been reduced to just campfire stories had Jesus not risen again after his fall.

That is what made all the difference. Jesus rose again after his death. This life that we know will pass away soon enough, but when we accept Jesus as our Savior and put our trust in Him, we are promised that we shall be raised again with Him. We no longer need to fear death, because our Lord has complete power over death and not the other way around.

Over the years, there’s been many people that have said their way was the answer to life, but they all died; all but one, Jesus. Jesus backed up every claim He made through fulfillment of scripture prophecies as well as the miracles He did. The biggest miracle of all was the empty tomb on Sunday, because in dying He destroyed our death, and in rising He restored our life.

I don’t need a dead savior. I can die on my own just fine, thanks. What I need is the risen savior. I need Jesus Christ.

You and I will fall to our sins, but the real tragedy would be if we didn’t rise again from it. Only one thing separates us from God and keeps us out of heaven and that is our sin. That is why our greatest need is to have our sins forgiven. Only then can we be reconciled to God and have the opportunity to be with Him for all eternity. The Bible says in Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” Jesus is the ONLY way.

Happy Easter, my friends. It is not just the resurrection day of our Lord Jesus Christ, but it is the day of our resurrection as well. As He was raised, so shall we be raised with Him forever.

God’s blessings to you.

DH

The Reason for the Season

“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” – Luke 2:11

When the world needed peace, Jesus Christ was born. At a time when things didn’t seem that they could get any worse, Jesus arrived. When people were scared, angry, self-absorbed, and looking to the wrong things to bring themselves happiness, God arrived on Earth.

By all rights, this description sounds a lot like 2020. Wars and rumors of wars, protests and infighting at every level, and a pandemic that has affected the world. Nothing about this year was easy or occurred by any of our supposed plans.

We need peace, we need complete love, and we need hope for the future. In short, we need Jesus. Now more than ever, we need The Savior. We need Jesus Christ for n our lives and in our hearts. He is the only way to where we need to be.

Whether you believe in Him or not, Jesus Christ has changed the world forever. Our common year is based off of the life of Jesus Christ. Even if some people changed the acronym, it’s still before Christ’s birth and after. Phrases we use every day, such as “Go the extra mile,” “blind leading the blind,” “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” or “straight and narrow” are all words straight from Christ’s mouth. This whole time of year especially is because of Jesus. You can say happy holidays all you want, but the truth of the matter is that Christ is the reason for the season.

Even in places that are cynical of Christian values, I have heard Christmas music playing. Take the time to listen to those songs. Those are songs of praise and worship and they are being played all over the place and even all over the world this time of year.

To paraphrase the book of Acts, if this whole Jesus thing was just of men, it would turn to nothing. However, if this really is of God, there’s nothing in this world that can stop it. It’s been over two thousand years since the birth of Jesus and there is no silencing the believer, no matter what heretical laws are passed and no matter how politically correct this country becomes.

Why is that? Because the person who has been forgiven of much shows the most love for the Lord. I have been forgiven of many wrongs in my life and, if by chance I am ever rendered mute, my actions and my very soul would still sing out in praise of the God Most High.

That’s why there was a bright and shining star that showed the way to Christ’s crib that fateful night. Even the universe showed praise to the Creator with a glow that could never be equaled. That shining star stood for peace and hope to the ones in need of a savior. It also stood as a warning light to those who thought they were doing fine by their own ways. It was a green light to love and a red light to evil.

So please remember this time of year, Christmas time. Praise Jesus for His wonderful life and His death upon the cross for our sins. A believer’s future is sealed by complete and boundless love and it all started because a star was born and His name is Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas and God’s blessings to you.

DH

You Are The Key

“I am the living one. I died, but look–I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.” – Revelation 1:18 NLT

Aren’t keys funny little things? They are small jagged pieces of metal, but when they are used for their maker’s purpose, there’s nothing else that would do the trick. If the key was rounded or smooth, it would be useless and wouldn’t work where it was needed.

My family would tell you that I can be a little rough around the edges. I am far from perfect, but I am just as useful to God when I allow myself to be fully utilized by Him. Even a broken paintbrush could be used to make a beautiful painting in a master’s hands. The brush just has to be available. Unfortunately, I allow my brokenness to take me out of commission now and then through sin. When I engage in the bad things, I don’t allow myself to be used for good.

God wants us to be instruments of good here on earth. He wants the best out of us because in His eyes, we are worth it. We are His children, and even when we are not exactly at our best, He still looks at us and says, “This is my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased.” How can God say that, especially about people who are inherently broken? The reason is because God doesn’t just see us how we are at this moment; He sees us from a forever type of viewpoint. He sees what we are to become rather than the mess that we act like sometimes.

There’s a reason why we go through our trials. We can’t just be born and just stay there. Our lives were meant to be lived. God wants us to get out there into the world and to grow into the people He created us to be. Make no mistake, this is a fallen world that’s full of evils. We aren’t to partake in those evils, but God knows we will occasionally screw up. It’s going to happen. We make some bad choices now and again, but the Bible says that God will use all things for the good of those who love Him. That means just what it says, ALL things.

Take King David for example. He’s not exactly portrayed in the best light, but it’s real. The Bible shows David’s good sides and bad sides. Lust, jealousy, and murderous intent does not sound like someone who would be called “a man after God’s own heart,” but he is that man. It’s not how you start, but how you finish that matters. That doesn’t mean that you can just plan to live like you are straight from hell right now and expect to get into Heaven later. You can indeed be forgiven for a life not-to-well-lived, but that is only if you truly want the forgiveness. God knows what is in your heart. It doesn’t mean that He is happy with your actions right now, but it does mean that He will look beyond the ‘now you’ and see the ‘forever you’.

You are shaped by your experiences and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Nothing is for nothing. You will be pressured and cut down by this world, but God allows it. He’s not OK with evil, but He will occasionally allow it to occur in order to bring about a greater good from it. Look at the cross. It was an extreme form of punishment that was reserved for the worst of the worst criminals, and yet we find our Lord Jesus right there. We read in 2 Corinthians that even though Jesus did not sin, He was made to be sin so that we could become the righteousness of God. Through evil, the greatest good, our salvation, came from it.

You may have a hard time at life and feel like you get cut down by everything in this world, but Jesus tells us to take heart, for He has overcome the world. God did not just entrust us with the keys to His kingdom, we actually become the keys when we become more like Christ.

Keys symbolize such things as security and freedom, but a key won’t work until it is cut and shaped into its final form. Allow God to form us into what He needs us to become. Embrace the struggle and let the Holy Spirit chip away at your rough edges. Don’t get down on yourself when you make a bad choice, just learn from it and rise above it.

You may feel rough and unusable, but just like a key, you are shaped exactly the way God needs you to be. Leave yourself open and available to God’s good will. When you do that, I believe and declare that He will show you some amazing things that He has in store for your life and the lives of others.

God’s blessings to you.

DH

Are Pictures of Jesus Graven Images?- Since You Asked Q.2

“I see Jesus everywhere in a bunch of paintings and statues. Doesn’t that break one of the Ten Commandments when it says not to make any graven images or idols?”

‘Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves any gods of cast metal: I am the Lord your God.’ – Leviticus 19:4

This is an excellent question and one that I hear frequently. If we aren’t to make graven images, why are there an enormous amount of statues and paintings of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and etc.? Aren’t we making idols for ourselves to worship?

To begin this conversation, you need to know what an idol really is. An idol by definition is the object of worship. We never want to worship a created object in any way, thinking that the object is the source and origination of some godly power. However, having a picture of Jesus around is not a bad thing in and of itself.

Do you have any pictures of your mom or dad, or maybe some of your spouse and children? I know I do, a bunch of them in fact. Do I love those pictures? I may say that, but what I really love are the memories and the images of what they portray. I wouldn’t throw my kids away in favor of their picture, that would be insane. In truth, I love my wife and kids, but I keep their pictures around as a visible reminder of them.

The same thing can be said for a picture of Jesus Christ. I don’t truly love the picture. That picture didn’t die for my sins. That picture isn’t the son of the Most High God. That picture simply reminds me of a love that I share with my Creator and reminds me of the person and works of Jesus Christ.

We are both spiritual beings and physical beings all at once. We connect spiritually through such things as love, compassion, and other feelings. However, we also connect through the visible manifestations of those feelings. I can tell my wife I love her all day long, but she connects with it more when I do something to show her love, like a hug or a kiss. Does that mean the feeling is not needed? Certainly not. Once agin, we are souls and we are bodies, and one needs the other in this world.

One thing of note, and I touched on it before, is that when the visible object replaces the true and real object, that’s when you have an idol. We may look up to sports and movie stars, and that’s ok within reason. But you can eventually start to look to those stars as the end all-be all of your life. That’s when you have an idol problem. An idol is something, anything, that you can’t live without. That can be a person or a drug or even a feeling. Any creation that you raise above the Creator Himself is an idol.

To put it another way, if you are a Christian, you are housing the Holy Spirit within you. You are His temple. And just as I wouldn’t want some strange man in my house living there, God doesn’t want strange idols or anything ruling his house but Him. In short, God wants to be number one in the house.

In closing, a picture or a statue of our Savior is not a bad thing. It doesn’t mean we are worshipping a picture and making it into our idol. If you see something like a painting or even a Bible and it reminds you that you are loved by the God of the universe, that’s a good thing. Just don’t put that picture or that Bible above the Savior it refers to. Reminders are important, but the real thing is better by far.

God’s blessings to you.

DH

The Ten Commandments

“I am the LORD your God, which have brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me.” – Exodus 20:2-3

Sometimes, with all of the craziness of everyday life, it’s good to get back to the basics.  One thing that seems to go away from peoples’ minds is the fact that there is a right way to live this life and a wrong way.  One way leads to life and that’s God’s way.  Making your own rules up as you go along is truly the wrong way.

God created us as His children and He loves us very much.  Just like all good parents, God wanted to instruct His children on how to live the best that we could.  So one day, God made 10 rules, called commandments, for us to live by and He gave them to a man He trusted named Moses. God knew Moses would pass the commandments along to the rest of us.  Moses lived over 3000 years ago, but the rules God gave him to follow are just as important now as they were back then.

It’s just like when as a kid, our parents give us rules to protect us: to look both ways before we cross the street, to not hit our brother or sister.  They give us rules because they love us and know what’s best for us, and those rules never get too old to follow.

Please remember that each commandment is equally as important as the rest of them, one is not more important than the other. I’m only giving a brief overview of the commandments right now for the sake of time, but these really deserve a much deeper Bible study.

The first commandment is to put God first.  This means that nothing should be more important than God – a hobby you enjoy, tv or video games, even your friends and family should not be more important than God. When you make our Lord the top priority, it will keep your mind and heart more focused on His desires for your life and not just your own.

The second command is to worship only God.  This is like the first commandment in that God wants our love, and He doesn’t want us to bow down and worship a statue just because we can’t see Him.  In other words God is the only one that we should pray to or look to for our completion.  Not sports heroes, not movie stars, just God.

The third commandment is broken all the time nowadays it seems.  God commands us to use His name with respect.  Many people use God’s name like a swear word, or say it when they’re upset.  God wants us to use His name when we’re talking to Him, or telling others about Him in a nice way.  To use His name in these other ways is very disrespectful and hurts God to hear it. You wouldn’t say your mom’s name as a bad word, so don’t use God’s.

The forth commandment should be easy, we are to remember God’s Sabbath, which means His day of rest.  God wants us to take one day of the week and just rest from all of the stress.  When God made the world in six days, He rested on the seventh day.  This gets harder when you get older, there always seems to be something to do, but remember God commands us to take a day off.  Like my mom used to say, “it’s good for what ails you.”

The fifth commandment might be a little tricky for some of you, but it’s very important (like all the other commandments) that you follow it.  He tells us to honor our father and mother.  That’s a tough one if you had not gotten the blessing of a good set of parents.  So many people I meet have dad or mom issues from poor parenting during their early years.  Non-existent parents are sometimes better than abusive or addicted parents.  That being said, God didn’t say to love them or even respect them, but honor them.  You honor your parents by not only forgiving them of their shortcomings, but especially by becoming a better person yourself through a more godly life than what they lived.  Frankly, even the best parent should be held up as a warning instead of an example. Honor your parents

The sixth commandment says don’t kill people.  This doesn’t mean just kill, but the original term written means “an unlawful taking of an innocent life.” It doesn’t mean that a police officer or soldier who needs to take the life of an evildoer in order to protect the lives of good, law abiding citizens.  God understands and the Bible is replete with God-sanctioned wars and the like.  It is unfortunate, but there is evil in this world and true evil will never allow a harmonious existence with good.  That being said, we must go as far as we can to forgive those who wrong us and lead a peaceful life.

The seventh commandment is for those who are married.  God tells us to be faithful in marriage.  He wants us to love our wife or husband someday and treat them with respect. Marriage is important and should be treated like it is. This even extends to what Jesus said about committing adultery of the eyes, so to speak.  If you are married, you are joined with that one man or one woman.  If you cheat or even look upon another person lustfully, you are not only defiling yourself, but your spouse as well.

The eighth commandment is don’t steal.  This means that we shouldn’t take something that doesn’t belong to us.  You wouldn’t want people to take your favorite item, so don’t take anything that isn’t yours.  Remember that God is in control and He will provide what we need.  You will never lack for anything if you are faithful to God.

The ninth commandment is don’t lie.  It is always better to tell the truth, and while you’re at it don’t do anything that would make you want to lie.  Usually parents, police, or other authority figures know when you’re lying anyway.  We know you did it, just admit it.  And if you do something wrong and don’t get caught by another person, God sees and hears everything and He already knows that you did wrong.  Don’t lie about it and make the situation worse.

The tenth commandment is don’t covet.  This means that we shouldn’t wish to have things that someone else has.  I know there is always a new muscle car or pair of shoes – there is always something that we want to get.  It’s important to remember that these things aren’t really important.  God is the most important thing and should be in your life (remember the first commandment).

Now I know this list might seem nearly impossible to follow all the time, but God gives us His best and we should try to do our best for Him, too. When we mess up, and we will, remember that things will be OK if we stick close to our Heavenly Father. God loves and forgives us through the finished work of Jesus on the cross.

God’s blessings to you.

DH