Encouragement From The Word

Return on investment

Because we get most of our bills sent electronically, and not many people share handwritten correspondence anymore, except on special occasions, we find that we don’t need to retrieve our mail from the post office more than once or twice a week.

Lately, though, our mailbox has been fuller than usual.  My wife is getting a lot of unsolicited mail – asking for money, of course – from unusual sources.

Yesterday, there was  a letter for her from an organization, and when she got home, she looked at it and said, “Someone is selling their mailing list.”

This happens to everybody who has a fixed address, though perhaps less often than usual, because direct mail campaigns seem to be less effective than they once were.

It got me thinking, though.  Because of privacy laws, fewer and fewer organizations are free to sell their mailing lists, but when they do, other groups will buy them because they hope, and maybe even expect, that they will recoup their investment through new donors. In other words, the cost involved in gaining more names will be exceeded by the results they will get from sending a campaign to those names.

When we share our faith, there is no money exchanged – I don’t think, anyway! – but there is a ‘return on investment’ side to it.  For many of us, talking about our relationship with God has a cost: uncomfortabliity.  Many of us find ourselves outside our comfort zones when we talk about Jesus with others. That’s why we don’t do it.

But consider the return on that investment: if we share our faith with others, and even one person says ‘yes’ to Jesus, what is gained from that act far exceeds the uncomfortability we may have had in sharing.

Think about that the next time you have the opportunity to open a door of faith for another person.  What you’re feeling is nothing when compared with the changed eternity for that person who may come to the Lord as a result.

So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5.20, NLT).

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Biblical Messages

Word of Mouth

If we don’t tell people about Jesus, how will they know?  That’s the thrust of this message, in which we look at why we don’t share our faith, and why we should.  You can watch or listen below to this message, based on John 4.39-42.  (The video shown near the beginning of the message can be viewed separately here.)

 

Encouragement From The Word

If you don’t tell them, how will they know?

If you walked by someone’s home and saw flames shooting up through the roof, what would be the first thing you’d do? You’d call 911, and pound on the door until you made sure that people inside knew about the fire and could get out safely.

If you’re a follower of Jesus and you meet someone who is not, what’s your normal reaction? Most people’s response would be to be polite and say nothing.

Theologian Michael Green said, many years ago, that too often, Christians are like people going through customs at the airport: nothing to declare.

You and I have something to declare – something of eternal importance.

If you’re a follower of Jesus who believes the Bible is true, then every person you know who is not a follower of Jesus is the equivalent of a house on fire. We have a responsibility to find creative ways to encourage them to follow Jesus, because eternity rests in the balance. We’ve got the best news in the world to share.

If you don’t tell them, how will they know?

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son” (John 3.16-18, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word

Caught and taught

Recently, I received a bunch of papers from one of my favourite subscribers to Encouragement From The Word:  my mother.  Slowly but surely, she is starting to get rid of unnecessary things.  She has a difficult time throwing them away, so she gives to me things that she thinks might be of interest, because she knows that when I’m done with them, I can throw them away.

This bunch of papers came from my grandmother; they were notes in her handwriting.FullSizeRender 2

There were some that cited Bible verses, some were prayers, some were notions.

One of them was some advice from my grandmother on how to pray, particularly for me.  (Apparently, at that time, I wasn’t the easiest person in the world to deal with.)

I will throw out those papers, but having read them, the memory, which takes up no room in a box, will stay with me.  My grandmother’s legacy of faith remains in some of these little notes, simple means by which she could impart the wisdom of years of faith and faithfulness to my mother, and to me.

If you are a seasoned follower of Jesus, how are you leaving your legacy of faith?  And if you are a newer believer, are you inviting wiser Christians to build into your life?  Many don’t want to inflict themselves on you, but they are just waiting to be asked.

After all, faith is as much caught as it is taught.  Whose faith are you catching?

I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice.  And I know that same faith continues strong in you” (2 Timothy 1.5, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word

A whole world to be won

Last week, the Toronto Blue Jays clinched Major League Baseball’s American League East Division title for the first time in 22 years. There was, as you might imagine, much rejoicing at this, from both players and fans alike.

But did you notice what happened immediately after the game they won that clinched the title? They lost the next couple of games – games that, arguably, they should have been able to win (especially the first one). Granted, that first one saw a number of second-string players getting field time, but one might have thought they’d play better than they did.

It was as if the Blue Jays had gained a title, and then let their guard down, forgetting what was at stake (which, in this case, was home field advantage). There are more series yet to play!

Sometimes, we can be like that in the life of faith, can’t we? We come to faith in Christ, with all the excitement that comes with that, and maybe we serve for a season, but then we decide it’s time for someone else to take over. We let our guard down.

Yet there’s a whole world to be won.

Trusting Jesus for our eternal salvation is important, but it’s not the end of the road. We don’t believe and then start spraying the proverbial champagne. No – when we come to faith, that’s when the real work of being followers of Jesus begins. Jesus told us to pray that God’s Kingdom would come on earth, just as it is in heaven. And for that to happen, Christ-followers have to work.

So celebrate your faith, but don’t rest on your laurels. There’s a whole world to be won!

The harvest is great, but the workers are few.  So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields” (Matthew 9.37b-38, NLT).

Biblical Messages

“Through the Roof” Friendship

How much – really – do we care about our friends and loved ones?  Jesus encountered some friends who went to great lengths to see their paralyzed friend receive God’s healing.  Are you prepared to overcome necessary obstacles to bring a friend to Jesus?  You can read the story in Mark 2.1-12, and you can listen to the message here:

Encouragement From The Word

Displaying clarity

The telephone in my home office has a digital display. Lately, though, it’s been playing tricks on me, as you’ll see in the photo. Normally, it will tell me the time, IMG_1441the month and date, the number I’m dialing, and how many new calls I’ve had. (I suppose it would tell me who was calling, too, if I paid for that option.) But right now, if it’s displaying anything legible, it might as well be in Klingon, because I can’t read it at all. I’m not sure what it takes to fix it; sometimes, it has come back to ‘normal’ all by itself. But over the past few days, it has just been a backlit mess.

There are times that we can be that way, aren’t there? Just a backlit mess?

Walking as followers of Jesus is not an easy thing to do in our world today, because to live as disciples is to live counter-culturally: while society is going in one direction, we are travelling in the opposite direction. That makes it difficult to be vigilant all the time, and at times, people may look at us and not be sure what they’re seeing – just like my phone display.

Someone – I think it might have been the 19th century evangelist, Dwight L. Moody – said that the Christian is the only Bible some people will ever read. That places a heavy responsibility on us to live lives that are clear in their demonstration of following Jesus. We won’t live perfect lives, because we can’t, but when we live with greater clarity of faith than not, we become winsome beacons of light, drawing people out of darkness.

If we will live positive, godly, authentic and faithful Christian lives, making what we believe practical in day-to-day functioning, we might be amazed at the number of ‘yes’ responses we get when we say to a friend, “Hey, would you like to come to church with me on Sunday?”

Give it a shot. You won’t be disappointed. And the Holy Spirit, who lives within each believer, will give you the strength to do it.

You are the light of the world – like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5.14-16, NLT).