When To Preach The Gospel

The short answer to the question of when to preach the Gospel is : ALWAYS.  Whenever you get the opportunity! There is no shortage of fresh material on this subject, because this Gospel of Jesus compasses the whole teachings of Jesus.

  • Gospel Means Good News
    Gospel Means Good News

    Gospel Means Good News

We know the “Gospel means Good News; so the entire gamut of Christian teaching falls under this banner.  It is “Good News” that Christ died for us, to save us from our sins; it is “Good News” that Christ rose again in the “Ressurection” that we might be redeemed from sin to everlasting life; it is “Good News” that Christ lives in the world today to continue the work begun 2000 years ago; and it is “Good News” that Christ loves you and me and wants to share His grace and gory with each and every sinful one of us on this planet!

  • So what exactly is this “Good News”?

So what exactly is this “Good News”?  What does it mean in practical terms to you and me?  For my part, it means that the whole care and worry of living in today’s fraught society is shifted off my shoulders and laid at the foot of the cross.  My foundational scripture is the “sermon on the mount”[Matt 5,6,7], where Jesus teaches that we don’t need to worry[Matt 6:31-34]31 So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.[about ANYTHING]; but if we pay attention to His will, He will take care of us and supply ALL OUR NEEDS!  I understand this to mean that if I am always attentive to His will, then He will supply ALL my needs.

  • We Lack Nothing!

It is my testimony, that since I understood this and put it in place in my life, that God has richly blessed me and Mary; and in the 20 odd years since I made this committment, we have never lacked anything. Praise the Lord. So I say that this in every way, is Good News.

  • Salvation and Everlasting Life

I find it tremendously comforting too, to know that my sins have been forgiven, and that I am a living working part of the Kingdom of Heaven here, now, and in this place. When Christ rose [the ressurection] from the grave, He took my sin, and God has promised that He will remember it no more. The covenant I have with my God is this: That I will love the Lord my God with all my heart and with all my strength and with all my heart and my neighbour as myself – or I am to Love God, love my fellows, love my neighbour, and tell the Good News.  This is not too hard to do. In return, God has covenanted that he has forgiven my sins, that I am born again through His Grace in to everlasting life, and that He will supply all my needs. What more could I want?

  • Good News for Everyone in Need

Given the very foundational nature of the Good News, then we need to preach it at every opportunity, whenever we have an opportunity.  It is fundamental to Christianity, it can never be preached too often.  It is vital news for anyone carrying any kind of load of care, or worry, or sickness, or oppression, or need, or is suffering any form of depression

 

 

Those Wide Open Spaces

I am deeply suspicious of those who think they can get along in the Kingdom of Heaven WITHOUT meeting with other Christians, the “I feel closer to God in the Wide Open Spaces“; brigade. This old Rosemary Clooney Hymn suggests a good way to think about God’s “Great Out Doors”.

Wide Open Spaces
Wide Open Spaces

 

“Oh the place where I worship is the wide open spaces, Filled by the hand of the Lord. Where the trees of the forest are like pipes of an organ, And the breeze plays an amen choir. All the stars are the candles and they light up the mountains; Mountains are altars of God. Oh, the place where I worship, is the wide open spaces; Where the sun warms the peaceful sod”.

Here’s a link to a rendition by Lorne Greene

Shure, you can worship God by yourself in the “wide open spaces”, but that has very little to do with being a Christian.

  • Christians follow Jesus Christ!

Christians, by definition, are “those” who believe/follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.  This is NOT “Some” of us, but “Those”, meaning ALL of us!  What applies to one of us, applies to all of us. We can’t NOT join together and stay still true to the natural definition of Christians.

  • What are we told to do?

What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.

This then, was the advice Paul gave to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 14:26.)
For me, this scripture from Corinthians covers this.  The writer assumes that we WILL come together to meet, and that we WILL come together to worship, and we WILL come together to pray. To attempt to do these things alone is as futile as trying to play football by yourself.  Christianity is a team game.

  • Christians are Part of a TEAM

You can train for football by yourself, you can practice kicking, and dodging, and all manner of football things by yourself, but to actually play football, you need to a part of a team.  Same thing applies to being a Christian, you can pray and meditate, and worship, and practice all manner of Christian things by yourself, but to actually be a Christian, you have to be part of a team; a fellowship of Christians.  And you have to take your allotted part in that team – you can’t be the Captain, and the Coach, and the Key player, by yourself – you take your given part. Read the scripture from Romans 12  here4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

 

Sins of Omission

What are Sins of Omission?

Sins of Omission
Sins of Omission

That’s easy – Sins of Omission are the things you didn’t do because you forgot, or because you didn’t get around to it; or because you were just plain lazy; or worse, didn’t want to!

  • Why are they Sins?

Case in point: Last Sunday Betty came back to church after 6 weeks in hospital, and didn’t get one hug! She had been really looking forward to getting back to her church family, and swapping notes, and sharing her experience, but for various reasons, nobody actually made contact. (My excuse: I was setting up the sound system!). As a result she fled the service, convinced that nobody loved her.

  • Neglect as a Sin

This was terrible, and made us feel quite guilty when we all realised what had happened. You can see for yourself why our neglect was a sin. I was looking forward to catching up after the service, but that was too late. We have to do things WHEN we are prompted, and not put them off until it is “convenient” to us.  Consider the Scripture for this:

1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens: 2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance ………….

and so on, and so on; and the time to do something is right now when it pops into your head.

  • The Still, Small Voice

It is my belief that the Holy Spirit of God speaks to us by that “still, small voice” in our heads, and it is the FIRST thing we hear that is from God.  The SECOND thing, and the third and so on, is our subconscious, usually offering several rationalizations about why we ought NOT to do it.  Obey that first inner prompting, you will be hearing from God and you will likely cut down dramatically on your sins of omission.

  • Obedience to God

Listening to and obeying that inner voice is the key too to knowing what God wants us to do.  When we ask Him a question in the form of; “Oh Lord, what am I to do here?”.  The FIRST thing that pops up will be the spiritual answer.  As in the sentence above, the next thing that pops up will likely be one or more reasons not to do it.  You can bet that those negative reasons are from the subconscious, and are our selfish reasons NOT to obey. The scripture promise is that the Holy Spirit will be in us, so there is no time lag from asking a question to getting the answer.  Mostly the answer is there before we have finished forming the question. If we can form the habit of instant obedience, then we are more likely to stop those “sins of omission“.

 

Oh Lord – It’s Hard to be Humble

Oh Lord – It’s Hard to be Humble

 It's Hard to be Humble
It’s Hard to be Humble

 

That was the punch line of a song from my youth, “Oh Lord – it’s hard to be humble; when you’re perfect in every way!”  Today I had to think hard about being humble in the face of today’s text (Micah 6:8) for the days sermon which went; ” He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the LORD require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy  and to walk humbly with your God.” So how exactly does one walk humbly with one’s God?

  • Walk Humbly With Your God

Seems to me that the elemental meaning in “humble”, is deference to another or others. You can’t be humble without deferring to the other party.  So to walk humbly with your God is to listen carefully to what He wants and to be obedient to that.  This brings me straight to Psalm one where it says that happy is the man who meditates on God’s law both day and night. To be doing that would be to be attending humbly to God. It would be one way to know how to act in deference to God. You would in fact be “hearing from God

  • Fundamental Rule For The Christian

This then is a fundamental rule for the Christian.  Simply live out Micah 6:8, and act justly, (as God would have us act); show constant love, (as it says in the Good News Translation); and walk humbly, (in constant attendance) with your God. You can’t go wrong if you are listening to Him ALL day! This puts a reluctant truth to the line of the song above.  It IS hard to be humble, and we have to work at it because acting in love, acting justly, and being fully attentive to God are NOT natural acts for your average sinner.  We have to train ourselves  to do this; so don’t expect to instantly get it right!

  • Forget One-upmanship!

This humble stuff is not restricted to God – when we walk “humbly”, we can treat our fellow man with the same polite deference that we treat God.  I can say that most of the real truths that I have learned in life has been taught me by my fellows, by the people I interact with every day.  I have learned a heck of a lot by listening to, and watching the people around me.  If we are into “one-upmanship”, or any other kind of “scoring off” our acquaintances, then we will never learn anything from them, (apart from how silly we really are!).

  • Just Do It!

So think about the old song; “Oh Lord – it’s hard to be humble; when you’re perfect in every way!”  And try walking humbly with your God!

Listen to The Holy Spirit

  • Listen to The Holy Spirit

I recently came across this quote; attributed to the late Christopher Reeve;And that is my religion. I think we all have a little voice inside us that will guide us. It may be God, I don’t know. But I think that if we shut out all the noise and clutter from our lives and listen to that voice, it will tell us the right thing to do“.

  • Holy Spirit, or Your Conscience?

This comes really close to what I believe about the Holy Spirit.  I feel that He lives in the same little room in my head where my conscience lurks, and that when I surrendered my heart and mind to God and was baptized with the Holy Spirit, then that little voice that formerly was my conscience became the voice of the Holy Spirit.

  • Tune Out The World Listen to The Holy Spirit& Listen to The Holy Spirit

It is really hard to Listen to The Holy Spirit , and I have to, as Reeve says,  “shut out all the noise and clutter from my life and listen to that voice”.  In the Bible, it is referred to as, “the still small voice within”.  This is a really accurate description for me, and I know I have to try very hard to shut out the world and tune in to that voice.  It takes considerable will power to do this, for me the greatest difficulty is that I tend to drop off to sleep; but when I finally manage to switch off the world around me, it is in that precious moment when the world recedes that that wee small voice can be heard.

  • Not The Only Way

This is, of course, not the only way to hear the voice of God; but it is a good reliable method if you want to seek guidance or inspiration; or if you need to preach a sermon. God speaks to us in our own idiom, in the terms that we are familiar with, and that we can clearly understand.  Think about that for a minute: He will always make himself known in familiar terms, so there is no rationale for talking in old-fashioned language when we are praying.  Our God is the God of the here and now, and the Kingdom of Heaven is right here where we are.  Why therefore would you want to address Him, or He us, in King James style English from the  mid 1700’s? Expect to hear God in your normal everyday language when you Listen to The Holy Spirit.


Holy Spirit Power

A recent commentator said; “If the Holy Spirit is given authority in your life BY YOU, it will always use you to preach, heal, and more.”  This is so profound.  The Holy Spirit is always gentle, and polite, never pushy, never demanding, and we have to ALLOW Him to work, or nothing happens.  The Christmas reading today underlines the action of the Holy Spirit on Mary, the mother of Jesus.  She had to listen to the Holy Spirit; she had to permit the Holy Spirit to act in her life, (as did Joseph too!) – or none of us would be doing what we are doing today!

  • Our Commitment

It is our commitment to our faith that allows the Holy Spirit to work on those around us.  We have to say; “OK Lord; I will take this step in faith; or that step in faith.” Thus God can work in the world. God is not powerless, but He has chosen to work His will through us, and it comes down to simple obedience on our part.

  • The Whole World In Your Hands
    Whole World In Your Hands
    Whole World In Your Hands


This is an immensely sobering thought, that God will often only act through our obedience.  We do, in effect, hold the fate of the world in our hands.  We can choose to obey, to step forward in faith, or we can choose NOT to act, to put off that inner prompting.  To do this is to rob ourselves of blessing because God will often find another person to do His will, and they will be blessed instead.

  • Open Our Minds

There is a very big challenge here.  If the above be true, as I believe, then we can open our hearts and our minds to God to WHATEVER He might ask.  I think we are usually tempted to only ask for and to pray for those things that we judge are likely or possible, and in so doing we limit God to the bounds of our own intellect. Historically we know that in Him ALL things are possible, but we shut down on the unlikely things, and thereby limit Him to very small and mundane blessings.

  • The Challenge –

The challenge therefore, is to open our minds to whatever the Holy Spirit might be prompting us to do.  To believe in the impossible; to expect miracles, and so to grow our faith and our expectation of God to wonderful new heights.  Let us step out, and up, and believe that He will indeed empower us to “Preach a Sermon, and Heal, and More”!

More Evidence of The Holy Spirit

I have written before on How You Recognize the Holy Spirit in someone, and the question

More Evidence of The Holy Spirit
More Evidence of The Holy Spirit

that is continually asked on this Blog is, “What is the Evidence of The Holy Spirit”. The quick answer, of course, is in what Jesus said; “….by their fruit you shall know them”. This is totally true today, that has not changed one little bit.

  • Real Christians

A real Christian is led by the Holy Spirit of God, and the truth of that is evident in their lives. They genuinely love others, and this is evidenced by their actions; they befriend the lonely, they succour the needy, in fact they live out the basic Christian precept of; “Love one another”.

  • Wannabe Christians

A wannabe Christian doesn’t do that, what they do (I speak from former experience here!), is rush around trying to earn their place in the Kingdom with “good works”. They are so busy being ‘do-gooders’ they are deaf to the leading of the Holy Spirit, they don’t have time to meditate on His Word; they are, like the priest and the Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan, far too busy to stop and render aid to a person in need.

  • God is Love

So how do you pick the Christian from the “Wannabee”? You examine the result, the “fruit”. The consequences of spirit led acts will always be good – the recipients will feel good about what has happened to them, the hearers will be inspired and blessed when anyone preaches such a sermon. Because the Christian is led by the Spirit of God the result MUST BE characterized by God’s fundamental ethic; I.E., LOVE. So everyone will recognize God’s hand in what has happened and will be uplifted, or inspired, or soothed, or whatever as a result.

  • Spiritual Peace

I have listened to many speakers who were preaching a sermon using their own agenda, and I always feel uneasy about what I am hearing, I doubt the validity of the points they are making, and my spirit does not agree with what is being offered. You should be convicted by what you hear; and you MUST feel at peace with what you hear, or it is NOT from God. Likewise with actions, if you are not feeling blessed by someones actions, then their motivation is worldly, NOT heavenly. If they are responding to God’s urging, then it must be in response to some need of yours, and you will welcome that. God would NEVER urge them to some action that didn’t benefit you!

  • Apply These Tests

To be sure that the Spirit is in what is happening, apply these tests: You must be at peace about it, God is a god of peace and love. You must feel conviction inside yourself, in your spirit, not doubt, or stress. And, of course, it must agree with scripture – God does not contradict himself.  Read the Galations account of the “Fruit of the Spirit”, and look for those fruits in the lives and actions of those around you. Every one of those fruits has an opposite, and if you are seeing those opposites, those negative fruits, then you are seeing the fruit of the “other” kingdom, NOT God’s Kingdom.

Are You Called To Preach?

Are You Called To Preach?

Matthew [a commentator here] said; “Well, my opinion is that you need to be made for preaching. And yeah, it’s true that all gifts from God are mostly rough gifts which as we grow we can master them. Something similar to practicing and rehearsing your voice for music. It’s exactly how sea shells are made.”

  • Preachers Are Born, Not Made

Matt was responding to the previous post, and he makes a couple of very important points there. It has been said that ‘preachers are born, not made’. This is the whole point of being led by the Holy Spirit of God, that you are given this gift of preaching, and when you recognize this and begin to preach a sermon, you are simply being obedient! When God calls you to do something, of course He will enable you to do it. When you choose a tool to do a job, you choose the tool that is designed for that job;  so you can be totally sure that if your loving Heavenly Father has chosen you to do something, He will have already given you the ability to do that work.

  • Mastering Rough Gifts

Matt’s comment also talks about mastering the ‘rough gifts’. I like his lovely little analogy about the sea shells.  Just as the sea shell grows into a thing of grace and beauty by the constant laying on of microscopic layers of calcium; so the preacher grows into greater levels of skill and fluency as he constantly listens in obedience and as he tells out what he hears from God.

  • Obedience To The Voice Of God

This whole blog is about listening to the voice of God, being obedient to that voice, and then being blessed right out of your socks as you get confirmation that you were acting in that obedience. The real teachers here are the Holy Spirit of God and the Holy Bible.  It is obedience to them that brings the great blessing we yearn for, and obedience to them that brings about God’s purposes in this world. We are the hands and feet of Christ to the world, we are the Love of God in action in the world, and we are the Voice of God throughout the world.

  • Are You Called To Preach?

So to answer the question; “Are You Called To Preach?”, you have to consult your Heavenly Father.  He decides, not man, not your mother-in-law, not your church elders.  The elders have the right to issue permission to preach, within their own fellowship, but the question of whether you are or are not called to preach is a matter between just you and God.  Lots of people have thought that they would like to be preachers; for the glamour, or for the power, or maybe just for the plain desire to serve Him in a meaningful way; but to be a real preacher, you must be answering God’s call to preach. If that is His will, you will be enabled, and somehow it will happen. You need to listen to and follow those inner promptings, and look for the appropriate confirmation when ever you act.

What is The Trinity

Trinity
Trinity

The Trinity is the threefold presence of the Christian God, as the Father,  as Jesus the Son, and as the Holy Spirit. I read a post this week where the writer stated categorically that NO ONE can understand the Trinity. In fact the writer said; “The Trinity is a concept that is impossible for any human being to fully understand, let alone explain”. Sausage! – it is certainly comprehensible, if you use the information God has given us.

  • God in Everything

The explanation goes like this.  God has told us that He created man in His own image; ergo, to understand God we must look at man [the totality of mankind].  I find that when I look at the world around me there is manifold evidence of God in it, and to understand God, we need only to look at His work. I see God in everything; in the ordered mathematical perfection of creation, in the always changing, never repeated beauty of the sky, and in the unimaginable magnitude of the universe itself.

  • We are Ourselves a Model

We have in our persons a model of the trinity.  We exist as a physical presence, a perfectly designed physical mechanism that maintains and restores itself with no help from our sentient person, the intellect or the brain that is our personality, the driving force of our conscious being and the second part of the threefold entity which we are. We exist too as a soul, we yearn, we desire, we create, and so we have a third existence alongside the personality and the body.

  • Body, Mind and Soul

The physical body hungers, and is fed; it reacts to sensation and involuntarily shrinks from heat and pain. The persona however, is driven by the conscious brain and logic, and causes the body to move according to that logic. On the other hand, my emotional self, or my soul, promotes acts that the brain and the body may resist, like having more chocolate when both brain and body say I have already had more than enough. I exist on three discrete levels, and act and react  on those various levels according to the dominant urges at that time.

  • Physical, Mental and Spiritual

Some actions spring purely from the body; E.G., breathing, dispelling hunger by eating, or shivering when cold.  Other actions are the direct result of the working of the mind; E.G., writing a blog post. And the third set of actions are the product of our soul; and might be as disparate as subconsciously sipping our coffee while we write; or simultaneously enjoying a recorded musical passage.

  • 3 Fold Existence

So the physical me will respond to stimuli without engaging the brain, the mind initiates various actions as a result of processing incoming or remembered data, and the soul floats where it will and often persuades the mind and body along with it. I can see three distinct persons in myself. I hesitate to use the word trinity, it seems sacrilegious to do so, but threefold seems to cover it.

  • God,  the Trinity.

Our God himself is threefold, the archetypal Trinity. He comes to us by His Holy Spirit when and as our soul requires. He might respond through the love of our Lord Jesus when we need healing in our body; and by His Grace, he cherishes our immortal souls and shelters us under the shadow of his hand as God Our Father. Three in one.

How To Be Christ In The world

  • Shine Your Light
Shine Your Light
Shine Your Light

Why you should Shine Your Light. A comment by Teresa Martin on the last post read; “…if the world can’t see Christ in us, we are ‘salt that has lost it’s saltiness’.”  I like that. We are indeed the salt that has lost it’s saltiness.  I struggle all the time with trying to “be Christ in the world”.  Every time I lose my cool in traffic, or get terse with an unhelpful shop assistant, I am just another failed Christian.  After such a “fall from grace”, the Holy Spirit kicks in and I am heavily aware of not having acted like Jesus would have. Call it conscience if you are more comfortable with that term, but the result is the same.   We fall short of our own expectation of ourselves, and we suddenly realise that we have just wasted another great opportunity to witness Christ into the community.

  • Filled With a Warm And Loving Joy.

It is when we take those opportunities and reply to provocation with love that we are really “being the Bible” to the world around us.  If we do use the situation to show love, to offer practical witness, we will be filled with a warm and loving joy, we will have blessed that person, and we will have been an effective witness to the love our God has for this world.  Think how good it will be for your inner self if you come away from EVERY encounter with a warm glow, and are concious that you have blessed that individual, rather than leaving them with a scowl and feeling angry.

  • Practice what you Preach

The wonderful old cliché, “Practice what you Preach”, kicks in here.  It is totally valueless if we preach a sermon to our congregation on Sunday morning saying “love God and love our neighbour”, if we are not doing exactly that in our own daily life. Double standards are easily detectable and will show in our body language and in other subtle ways, so it is vital that we do indeed put into practice the things we are telling others.

  • Shine Your Light.

The same passage of scripture that speaks about saltiness goes on to use the idea that we are a light to the world.  We are urged to so show our light before men that others may see our good deeds and praise God in Heaven. This is how we “shine that light of God’s love”, by acting out His love for all men in EVERY place that we can.

“We can take every human encounter and turn it into a Kingdom experience simply by showing love to that other person.  It is that easy!”