How To Experience More Of Christ’s Joy

“Many people are selective about which parts of themselves they bring to Me in prayer. Some hesitate to approach Me about traits they consider shameful or embarrassing. Others are so used to living with painful feelings—loneliness, fear, guilt, shame—that it never occurs to them to ask for help in dealing with those things. Still others get so preoccupied with their struggles that they forget I’m even here. This is not My way for you, beloved.

There are hurting parts of you that I desire to heal. Some of them have been with you so long that you consider them facets of your identity. You carry them with you wherever you go, barely aware of their impact on your life. I want to help you learn to walk in freedom. However, you are so addicted to certain painful patterns that it will take time to break free from them. Only repeatedly exposing them to My loving presence will bring you long-term healing. As you grow increasingly free, you’ll be released to experience My joy in greater and greater measure!” —Jesus (in Sarah Young’s Jesus Always)

Thursdays With Oswald—Spiritual Honor

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Spiritual Honor

     “I am a debtor to Greeks and to Barbarians” (Romans 1:14). Do I feel this sense of indebtedness to Christ Paul felt with regard to every unsaved soul I meet, every unsaved nation? Is it a point of spiritual honor with me that I do not hoard blessings for myself? The point of spiritual honor in my life as a saint is the realization that I am a debtor to every man on the face of the earth because of the Redemption of the Lord Jesus Christ.” …

     Am I doing anything to enable Jesus Christ to bring His Redemption into actual manifestation in other lives? I can do it only if the Holy Spirit has wrought in me this sense of spiritual honor. When I realize what Jesus Christ has done for me, then I am a debtor to every human being until they know Him too.” …

     Is it my conviction among men that every man can be presented “perfect in Christ Jesus”? Or do I allow men’s sins and wrongs so to obliterate the power of the Redemption that I sink under them?

From So Send I You

Some powerful questions for every Christian to honestly answer:

  • Does my salvation mean enough to me that I am burning with passion for others to know this salvation too?
  • Am I hoarding God’s blessings, or am I passing them on?
  • What am I doing to make sure everyone knows about Jesus?
  • Do I write some people off as “unsavable,” or do I believe Jesus can reach every single person?
  • Am I living like I really believe that?

8 Quotes From “The World’s Last Night”

In seven essays expressly shared to get the reader to think in terms of eternity, C.S. Lewis masterfully practices his craft. Check out my full book review of The World’s Last Night by clicking here. Below is just a small sampling of a few of the outstanding quotes in this book.

“Simply to say prayers is not to pray; otherwise a team of properly trained parrots would serve as well as men.”

“Prayer is not a machine. It is not magic. It is not advice offered to God. Our act, when we pray, must not, any more than all our other acts, be separated from the continuous act of God Himself, in which alone all finite causes operate.”

“Scientists are mainly concerned not with believing things but with finding things out. And no one, to the best of my knowledge, uses the word believe about things he has found out. The doctor says he ‘believes’ a man was poisoned before he has examined the body; after the examination, he says the man was poisoned. No one says that he believes the multiplication table. No one who catches a thief red-handed says he believes that man was stealing. The scientist, when at work, that is, when he is a scientist, is labouring to escape from belief and unbelief into knowledge. Of course he uses hypotheses or supposals. I do not think these are beliefs.”

“Since most men, as Aristotle observed, do not like to be merely equal with all other men, we find all sorts of people building themselves into groups within which they can feel superior to the mass.”

“‘Good works’ in the plural is an expression much more familiar to modern Christendom than ‘good work.’ Good works are chiefly alms-giving or ‘helping’ in the parish. They are quite separate from one’s ‘work.’ And good works need not be good work, as anyone can see by inspecting some of the objects made to be sold at bazaars for charitable purposes. This is not according to our example. When our Lord provided a poor wedding party with an extra glass of wine all round, He was doing good works. But also good work; it was a wine really worth drinking.”

“Christ died for men precisely because men are not worth dying for; to make them worth it.”

“It would be difficult, and, to me, repellent, to suppose that Jesus never asked a genuine question, that is, a question to which He did not know the answer. That would make of His humanity something so unlike ours as scarcely to deserve the name. I find it easier to believe that when He said ‘Who touched Me?’ (Luke 7:45) He really wanted to know.”

“For what comes [after Christ’s Second Coming] is Judgment: happy are those whom it finds labouring in their vocations, whether they were merely going out to feed the pigs or laying good plans to deliver humanity a hundred years hence from some great evil. The curtain has indeed now fallen. Those pigs will never in fact be fed, the great campaign against White Slavery or Governmental Tyranny will never in fact proceed to victory. No matter; you were at your post when the Inspection came.”

The World’s Last Night (book review)

I am a huge C.S. Lewis fan! His perspective on the spiritual world is unequaled in any other author I have read. In The World’s Last Night, Lewis shares seven essays ranging from how our prayers really impact things, to life on other planets, to the end of our world as we know it.

The title of this book (and the title of the concluding chapter) are taken from a question by John Donne: “What if this present were the world’s last night?” So all of Lewis’ essays are written from that perspective. If this is the world’s last night, why should we keep praying? If demons knew this was the world’s last night, why would they keep on tempting? If atheists knew this was the world’s last night, would they keep arguing the same way?

As with all of his writings, C.S. Lewis has a unique knack of giving his readers a perspective that is totally original. His skills in philosophy, literature, and understanding the human heart are unparalleled! If you are ready to have your horizons expanded, these essays will not disappoint!

(And for any fans of The Screwtape Letters, Screwtape himself makes a special appearance as he gives a toast in hell that is sure to evoke both smiles and chagrins.)

Are There Ghosts?

As a part of our annual Q Series, this was a question that was turned in: Are there ghosts?

Check out the video below…

The Scriptures I reference in this answer:

For other Q&As from this series, check out discussions about the Bible here, and questions about the mark of the beast here, and a question about a Christian losing his/her salvation here.

Can A Christian Lose Their Salvation?

As a part of our annual Q Series, this was a question that was turned in: Can a Christian lose his or her salvation?

Check out the video below…

Some of the Scriptures I reference in this answer:

For other Q&As from this series, check out discussions here and here.

How Long??

Four times in the opening two verses of one of his psalms, David cries out, “How long, O Lord?”

“How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?”

It does sometimes feel like the unpleasant season is lasting “forever!” David lays it out: “Every day it seems like Your face is hidden, I’m trying to come up with my own escape plans, my heart is breaking, and the bad guys are taking advantage of me! O Lord, how long will You let this last?”

David turns to prayer again and again. He asks God to hear him, enlighten his eyes, and silence his enemies.

Then I love this transition in David’s outlook—
“But I have trusted in Your mercy; [so]
my heart will rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord, because
He will deal bountifully with me.”

I have … I will … You have … You will!

O my soul, keep looking up. Keep crying out.

The God who has STILL will! 

Jesus Our Healer

“It’s clear from the Gospels that Jesus was a healer. We don’t know the exact number of people He healed, but it was certainly in the thousands, as on many occasions the Gospel writers tell us He healed ‘multitudes.’ We don’t know all the afflictions people suffered from, but they included leprosy, a deformed hand, swollen limbs, hemorrhaging, blindness, deafness, lameness, paralysis, seizures, a severed ear, and even death.

“It’s tempting to believe that all these people were healed by their faith, but we don’t know that for sure. We do know, however, that they were all healed by Jesus.

“I’m not just playing with words here.

“There are about forty different descriptions of healings in the four Gospels (some are described in more than one place), but faith is said to play an explicit part in only a little more than one-third of them. And in most of those healings, the faith of another person, not the afflicted, is stated. Faith is not even mentioned in the majority of Jesus’ recorded healings. Only twice did Jesus remark about someone (the centurion in Matthew 8:10 and the Gentile mother in Matthew 15:28) having great faith before He healed that person’s loved one.

“The common factor in all Jesus’ recorded healing miracles was Jesus Himself—not the faith of the sick people or their loved ones.” —Lynn Eib, in Peace In The Face Of Cancer

Thursdays With Oswald—God Has A Plan For Your Life

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

God Has A Plan For Your Life

     “Before I formed thee…I knew thee…” [Jeremiah 1:5]. There are prenatal forces of God at work in a man’s life which he may be unconscious of for long enough; but at any moment there may break upon him the sudden consciousness of this incalculable, supernatural surprising power that has got hold of his life before he has got hold of it himself.  

     Another force at work is the prayers of other people. You are born into this world and will probably never know to whose prayers your life is the answer. … Our lives are the answers not only to the prayers of other people, but to the prayer the Holy Spirit is making for us, and to the prayer of Our Lord Himself. …  

     When once Paul realized God’s call and knew the meaning of his life, there was no competitor for his strength. Is there anything competing for our strength in our devotion to the call of God?

From So Send I You

Isn’t it amazing to think that not only has God had a plan for your life before you even arrived on earth, but that your life is an answer to prayer?!

The Apostle Paul lived the first part of his life oblivious to God’s call. But once he had his encounter with Jesus, his whole focus and passion changed (see Acts 9:15-16; Galatians 1:15-16).

What about you?

  • Have you realized that God has a plan for your life?
  • Are you living like you are an answer to prayer?
  • Is there anything competing for your attention that is keeping you from being “all in” for God?

11 Quotes From Important Islam Booklets

I recently read four very insightful booklets on how Christians can best prepare themselves to share their faith in Jesus with their Muslim neighbors. You can read my complete review of these booklets by clicking here. Below are just a few quotes that caught my attention.

“‘America’s mosques are loaded with people who grew up in church’ [says Carl Ellis]. Ellis says that many converts to Islam are African-American males who see traditional churches as male unfriendly and as failing to address their real needs.”

“God is bringing thousands of Muslim immigrants to our shores every year. These people are coming from Islamic nations where they could not be evangelized before. Yet here in America, they are free to listen and respond to the Gospel. In this ‘land of the free’ they do not have to fear horrible consequences if they believe the gospel and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.”

“Our hearts should be increasingly burdened not only by the enormous spiritual need of the 1.4 billion Muslims, but also by the apathy of the missionary movement towards them. …  Instead of being evangelized, Muslims are evangelizing. …

“It is reported that Muslims are counting on Europe, the birthplace of the Reformation and the modern missionary movement, to become completely Islamic within the next few decades. In England more than 300 closed churches have been converted into mosques. … Muslims are now a majority in 44 countries of the world.”

“When you are discussing the Bible with the Muslim, it is important that you read the Bible verses in context. The Muslim has developed an intricate system of ‘abrogation’ or substitution of one verse for another, due to the random way the Qur’an is written. He will have a tendency to try to find verses in the Bible that ‘contradict’ each other. Anyone witnessing to a Muslim must know the Scriptures thoroughly and be able to lead the Muslim to understand the meaning of passages in relation to the setting in which they are found.”

“The Muslim will be impressed with a Christian’s words only if he experiences genuine friendship from the Christian and sees him living a consistent moral life. A Christian’s lifestyle must match his testimony.”

“It is better to win the Muslim as a friend than to win an argument and lose his friendship.”

“Christians should be aware that Muslims are people who seek after God!”

“Here, surely, is a key to witnessing to Muslims, both in the United States and around the world: Love them as Jesus loves us. … You must give your SELF to your Muslim friend—not just the gospel!”

“A cardinal rule is: Never become involved in arguments—especially theological ones! Nominal and even irreligious Muslims often become fanatical advocates of their faith when pushed by argument. The truth is: We have argued and debated for hundreds of years without success. Let us now become witnesses—not debaters!”

“No religion on the face of the earth deals with forgiveness of sins except Christianity. … The concept of God as a loving Heavenly Father is completely foreign to a Muslim. … Show him from the Bible how God has provided a way whereby all sins can be forgiven, and every trace of guilt can be completely removed. This is a very powerful tool in witnessing.”

“One way the power of the Holy Spirit is demonstrated is through physical healing. If your Muslim friend or a member of his family is sick, offer to go and pray for him. He will deeply appreciate your concern, and when the person is healed, this demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power will be convincing—often the key to his accepting Christ as Savior and Lord.” 

Some other helpful resources on this topic are two books from Nabeel Qureshi: Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus and Answering Jihad. Also, check out Praying For Muslims.

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