Are You Available?

Have you ever had someone walk into your life—even if it was just for a moment—and say something you needed to hear? You might not have liked what they had to say, but it was definitely something you needed to hear. 

My hunch is that those timely messengers were not necessarily “experts” in the area in which they talked to you. They may have been a doctor talking about a medical need, or it may have been a friend talking about some health issues. Most of the time our valuable messengers are just everyday people. 

God loves using “everyday people”! 

  • You don’t have to be a trained pastor to minister to people. 
  • You don’t have to be a trained theologian to tell people what you believe about God.
  • You don’t have to be a trained counselor to encourage someone.

You just have to be who God created you to be. And you have to be available. Like Amos. 

Amos was simply taking care of his farm and his herds when God called him to deliver a timely message to His people.

Amos introduces himself as just one of the shepherds of Tekoa (1:1) and tells another priest that he was simply minding his own business when God said, “Go, prophesy to My people” (7:10-15). 

Amos’ name means burden-bearer—he had a burden for his kinsmen. He saw their sin and knew what defiance of God would mean for them. This burden made him available to hear God’s voice say, “Go.” 

“But I’m not a trained prophet,” Amos could have said. “You are telling me to ‘prophesy’ but all I really know is farming and shepherding.” 

God said, “Say what you know.” 

What did Amos know?

  1. Amos knew God’s voice—In this short book, 43 times(!) Amos uses phrases like says the Lord, declares the Lord, or hear the word of the Lord. 
  2. Amos knew his business—This book is filled with language about sheep and shepherds, farmers and farm equipment, gardens and vineyards. 
  3. Amos knew God had told him “Go and speak” so Amos had boldness. 

You can put your name in all three of those places that say Amos. You can know God’s voice through the Bible, you know your “business” (whether it’s parenting, or coaching, or your own profession), and you can hear God saying, “Go, tell people about Me.” 

God wants to use you for His glory. He just needs your availability. Will you be open to being that person? 

Join me next week as we continue to learn the major lessons from that the minor prophets teach us. 

Thursdays With Oswald—The Hardy Annuals

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.

The Hardy Annuals

     By “hardy annuals” I mean the healthy-minded sinners. … How are we to get these irreligious people who are quite happy and healthy-minded to the place where they want Jesus? … 

     I want us to look at three types of pagans—Gallio, Herod and Pilate. …. 

     “And Gallio cared for none of those things” [Acts 18:12-15]. He said in effect, “I have nothing whatever to do with your religious quarrels, I am not here to decide questions of your law for you.” The opponents of Christianity are not weak, they are opponents who are able to ignore us; so the first thing to do is to examine and see what kind of Gospel we are preaching. … Have I a pet doctrine I am lifting up? If I have, then these healthy-minded folk will simply heap ridicule on me; but immediately I preach Christ, something happens—the Spirit of God begins to work where I cannot. …

     Herod is a rare type of pagan, he is obscene; he was bad, unmentionably bad, and you will find that when he saw Jesus Christ face to face he was not the slightest bit troubled. Why? He had heard the voice of God before through John the Baptist, and he had ordered that voice to be silent [Mark 6:17-18]. Herod is the presentation of the awful possibility of a fixed character, absolutely fixed in immorality. Jesus Christ did not awaken one tremor of conscience in him….  Did you ever notice what is recorded? “Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad” [Luke 23:8-9]—why? For the same reason that people go to a picture show, they want to see things. We read that Herod questioned Jesus in many words; “but He answered him nothing.” … 

     Pilate represents the type of pagan who always seeks his own interests; that type is known to us all today. People belong to certain churches because it is better for their business; or they shift their membership to other churches because it is more convenient for business. A once-born man, who acts from this point of view is an opportunist. “If it is Jesus Christ’s Gospel that is in the ascendancy, then I will use it to serve my own ends.” You have to bring that man face to face with Christ, not with your experience, but with Jesus Christ Himself. … 

     Rely on the Holy Ghost as the most practical Being you ever knew, and live among the facts of God’s Word and among human facts, and people will recognize Jesus Christ through you. … The next time you come across a ‘hardy annual,’ see that you lay hold of God for that one until Jesus Christ is presented by the power of the Holy Ghost, and then you will see the altered face, the altered attitude, and the altered life. 

From Workmen Of God

Well said!

9 More Quotes From “So Send I You”

So Send I You is a collection of lectures Oswald Chambers delivered to students who felt a call to missions work. But Chambers made clear that every Christian is a missionary—“A missionary and a Christian ought to be one and the same.” Here are a few more quotes from this challenging book.

“It is God who saves men; we have to do the discipling after they are saved.”

“Our Lord calls to no special work; He calls to Himself. Pray to the Lord of the harvest, and He will engineer your circumstances and send you out.”

“Our Lord’s word ‘go’ simply means ‘live,’ and Acts 1:8 describes the ‘going.’ Jesus did not say to the disciples—‘Go into Jerusalem, go into Judea, go into Samaria, go into the uttermost part of the earth’; but—‘You shall be My witnesses’ in all these places: He undertakes to establish the goings. So many people are obsessed with this idea—‘What are you going to do?’ I hope none of us are going to do anything: I hope we are going to be what He wants us to be.”

“We adapt the New Testament to suit our own ideas; consequently we look on Jesus Christ as One Who assists us in our enterprises. The New Testament idea is that Jesus Christ is the absolute Lord over His disciples.”

“One way in which satan comes as an angel of light to Christians today is by telling them there is no need to use their minds. We must use our minds; we must keep the full power of our intellect ablaze for God on any subject that awakens us in our study of His Word.”

“Unless the missionary knows God and trusts in Him entirely, he will step down to a lower level and compromise, and tell the people they need not do certain things in exactly the way that Jesus indicates. But if he stands true to God, he will preach the truth, at whatever cost to the converts. No nervous system can stand that strain, no sensitiveness of mind can stand that test, nothing but the Holy Ghost can stand it, because He has the mind of God.”

“Loyalty to the commission [see Matthew 28:19-20] means, first of all, that the missionary sets himself to find out all that his Lord taught. There is not a greater test for loyal concentration than that. Jesus did not say—‘Teach salvation,’ or ‘teach sanctification,’ or ‘teach divine healing,’ but—‘Teach whatsoever I have commanded you.’ … A missionary is not sent by Jesus Christ to do medical work, educational work, industrial work; all that is part of the ordinary duty of life, and a missionary ought to be so equipped that he does these things naturally. But Jesus Christ never sends His disciples to do these things; He sends His disciples to teach, to ‘make disciples of all the nations.’”

“God does not do anything with us, only through us; consequently the one thing God estimates in His servants is the work of the Holy Spirit.”

“The real center of the disciple’s devotion is watching with Jesus [see Matthew 26:38]. When once we have learned to watch with Him, the thought of self is not kept down because it is not there to keep down; self-effacement is complete. Self has been effaced by the deliberate giving up to another self in sovereign preference, and the manifestation of the life in the actual world of things is—‘I am not my own, but His.’”

My full book review of So Send I You is here, and you can check out the first set of quotes I shared from So Send I You by clicking here. And be sure to check out my weekly series “Thursdays With Oswald” where I share longer passages from his book I am currently reading.

Book Reviews From 2017

10 Quotes From “Live Dead Life”

Joy Hawthorne is a 16-year-old living with her parents in a radically Islamic Middle East country. Live Dead Life is her personal journal that she is sharing with other students in the same setting, but I find her words compelling, challenging, and encouraging for readers of all ages! Check out my full book review of Live Dead Life by clicking here.

“I step outside my door and follow Jesus where He leads. I seek to keep my feet on the path with Jesus, knowing a great adventure awaits.”

“To go through my day for Jesus, I need to spend time with Him. I can only give for Jesus what I received from Him. That is why I need time with Him daily.”

“I discovered that it’s easier to walk with Jesus all day when I think of Him as a friend I live with and not a duty I spend time with.” 

“It takes a lot of practice to intentionally involve Jesus in all part of my day, and I often forget, but I keep trying. And maybe that’s what Jesus wants—not perfection in a moment but persistence over time.”

“To reflect the image of God to the world, I have to know what He looks like and sounds like, right? I can’t do that without spending time with Him, and so it’s through my abiding time that I see Jesus and know Him and hear His voice. As I spend time with Him, I get a picture of Him to reflect to others. Jesus in me naturally flows out of me. Abiding affects everything and everyone around me.”

“I didn’t pick this place, but I can decide how I am going to live here.”

“All I have to do is look around. I might not be perfect, but I can follow Jesus and be there for others. I can be their first Christian friend. I can live with them. I can share my heart and the Gospel with them. All I have to do is say, ‘Yes.’ Yes to whatever Jesus has for me and wherever He wants to take me, whether I feel ready or not.”

“As God gives me life, He doesn’t give it so I can keep it for myself. God gives it so I can give it back. This is my chance to express the love that He shows to me, back to Him. I have one life to spend, and one death to give, so what happens when I stop trying to steal the gift He has given and instead offer it back? What happens when I let go of my plan and follow His, no matter how inconvenient? Choosing to live dead points me in that direction, to constantly turn things over to Jesus.”

“Jesus is too good to keep to myself. He’s worth telling the whole world. He’s worth sharing with my unreached neighbors.”

“When I cry out to Jesus, God delights to give an answer, and the answer is Himself—His heart in us. Then when I cry out for more, the answer is again Himself! When I cry for a broken world, hurt people, evil things, a deep wound, or gaping holes in hearts, God delights to be the answer to my prayers. He is the answer. I was never meant to be the answer to a lost, broken world. I am just meant to be in the place God calls me to be, to be able to tell the lost that He hears, that He hasn’t forgotten, that He knows.”

More quotes from this amazing book are coming soon, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I would highly encourage all Christians to download a free copy of Joy Hawthorne’s book (the download link is in my book review).

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?

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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