Is the Gospel Annoying?

Peter and John took Jesus' great commission to them and ran with it. They preached the Gospel of Christ with great passion and without apology. The promised Holy Spirit had come and set their hearts and tongues on fire.

The Captain of the Temple and the Sadducees, however didn't like it. They were greatly annoyed (Acts 4:2) that these mere fishermen were preaching about Jesus in the Temple. Why? Probably because the people were actually listening. So, what did this Captain and the Sadducees do? They had Peter and John thrown into jail overnight. Did that stop the people from coming to Christ? Nope. Over 5,000 men (not to mention women and children) came to Christ in spite of their preachers being arrested.

So, since the Gospel is apparently annoying, here's the question. Is it wrong to annoy people by telling others about Jesus? Should we be concerned about offending others with the Gospel and risk being labeled "intolerant" or "radical" or "politically incorrect"? Or even "annoying"? What do you think?


"And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand." 
~ Acts 4:1-4, ESV

Stepping Away from Distractions

I attended a lady's luncheon at my church this week. Our speaker shared her testimony - how God took her self-sufficiency and chiseled away at it over the years through various trials, and how his grace is always sufficient. It reminded me of my high-minded dreams as a young woman and how God yanked it all out from beneath me in 1997. I became gravely ill, never to be a whole woman again in this life. At least not physically speaking.

I've been on a bit of a high lately from fellowship with dear friends that God has brought into my life. This evening I crashed. Fatigue slammed me and out came the grouch. As I was thinking of a devotional for this week, I reflected that this is probably the reminder I'm in need of:

"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." ~ John 15:5, ESV

I need to step back and take some time for myself and Jesus - away from the distractions of my wonderful family and their many needs... away from my writing world and the demands it brings... away from everything that distracts me from my focus on Jesus, my rock who never changes.

What about you?

Heaven Sent Help

I love the book of John. It's filled with so many wonderful pictures of Jesus. Of his heart. Here, he's getting ready to leave this world. The cross is just around the bend. He's preparing his disciples for his departure and he wants them to know that, even though he is going away, they will not be left alone. He will ask the Father to send them a helper that will never leave them - the Holy Spirit. Even the promise that he won't leave them as orphans shows the depth of his love for them. They are his very own - his children. 

"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." ~John 14:16-18, ESV

This is the same Jesus who loves us, as we will discover later in John 17. He loves each of his followers with a love so vast we cannot begin to comprehend. 

Do you sense the love of Jesus for you in these verses?

This Same Jesus...

My senior pastor just retired and returned to his home in Scotland. Before he left us, he reminded us that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The same Jesus who was born of a virgin, who taught in the Temple, who ministered with his disciples, who was betrayed and crucified, who died and rose from the grave, who ascended up into the clouds to return to our heavenly Father - THIS Jesus is the same today and will be the same Jesus for all our tomorrows. THIS Jesus will one day come again the same way in which he left.

Is he your Jesus?

Glory on Display

I'm sitting here on my computer as a storm rumbles and shakes the earth. It reminds me of how big and fearsome God is and yet how merciful he is, too. 

He could squash us likes bugs and yet he extends his mercy for the sake of his Son, Jesus, and what he did for us on Calvary. Can you think of anything that displays God's glory like a sky-lighting, earth-shaking thunderstorm?

Purpose in Life

Reading Psalm 96 on our nation's Independence Day proved to be rather eye opening for me. Perhaps if followers of Christ were to follow this edict, we would live less confused and more at peace in the providence in which our God has placed us... and more at peace with God.

I know I don't want to be like the Israelites in the wilderness whom God spoke about in verses 7-11, "...Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah... For forty years I loathed that generation and said, "They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways." Therefore I swore in my wrath, "They shall not enter my rest."

What do you think? Shall we sing to the Lord and bless his name? Shall we tell of his salvation from day to day? If so, what are some ways in which we can do this?

The Joy of the Lord...

The people of God had been estranged from the Lord for decades. 
Now that they had returned, they were eager to hear His word and worship Him. 
They were sad because of the disappointment they'd been to God, 
failing to keep him first in their lives. 
Have you ever felt that way? 
This was God's response to their discouraged hearts that day:

Is the joy of the Lord your strength?

Holy Spirit Living?

God keeps bringing me back to two things he impressed upon me in my teen years:
1) Do not quench the Holy Spirit - 1 Thess 5:19.
2) Abide in Christ and He in you because apart from Him you can do nothing - John 15.

These were some of the passages I read and meditated on every day while growing up, sewing them deeply into my soul. Over the years and through life's trials, the thread became unraveled in so many places. The Spirit is telling me it's time to let him stitch up the torn places - to bind up my wounds, in order to get back to living in a purer union with Jesus. It takes courage, but Jesus promises the Spirit will give me that, too.

Sinner or Saint?

"We are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners." ~ Dan Cannon

All Rights Reserved
 This puts things in a little different perspective, doesn't it? And it makes sense. I mean, I'm not a writer because I write. I write because I am a writer. My pastor isn't a preacher because he preaches, but he preaches because he is a preacher. Our actions stem from who we are - not the other way around. A killer isn't a killer because he or she kills, rather he kills because murder is in his heart. What was it Jesus said? If you have unrighteous anger in your heart toward someone, you have already committed murder. If a man lusts after a woman in his heart, he has committed adultery. We act out of who we are. We don't become these things. We are these things, therefore we do them.

Frightening, isn't it? Thank God for redemption! Thanks to Jesus, we can go from being a sinner to being a saint. 

" the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace 
in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved 
through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 
not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, 
which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
(Ephesian 2:7b-10 ESV) 

So it stands to reason that people are not Christians because they do good works. Rather, Christians do good works because they are Christians. And people are Christians because God regenerates them - transforming the heart of a sinner into the heart of a saint.

Isn't God good?

Peace & Anxiety

~ by Linnette R Mullin, All Rights Reserved

"... do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
~ Phillipians 4:6-7

Though one of the most difficult commands to obey, the fruit of God's peace is one of the sweetest. I do experience it now and again. These verses have become a life line for me in many ways. The prayer that has fallen from my lips more often than any other the past year has been for His peace which passes understanding - that God would guard the hearts and minds of those I love while in the midst of their sufferings. My heart cries out for them and I strive to cast my anxiety for them on the Lord. 

It's not quite as easy to cast my personal anxiety on the Lord. I find myself waking with my stomach tied in knots. There's too much needing attending and too little of me to extend. I am beyond frustrated. I am anxious and fearful of failing those I love. I need this peace for myself. I need my heart and mind guarded from the evil one who threatens to undo me every day. I need a closer union with Jesus spoken of in John 15.

The Christian life is not an easy life, is it? Do you struggle with these issues? The day in and day out of sanctification is painful. I wonder if this peace that surpasses understanding is the only way we can truly grow and bear good fruit. The only way to keep from becoming bitter or fearful. Yes?

Grace and Truth ~ They Coexist

‎"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, 
and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son 
from the Father, full of grace and truth.
For from his fullness we have all received, 
grace upon grace." ~ John 1:14, 16

Ever thought about what it means to be full of grace and truth? Or to receive grace upon grace? I tend to focus on the part about Jesus being the Word of God and becoming human. Yet when we look a little closer we see that, though he was the Son of God, he was full of grace and truth. 

How many people of affluence do you know who are gracious? How many stand up for what's right, never wavering, and are full of integrity? Jesus is the Son of God and yet he never considered it a reason to lord it over the rest of humanity. He was full of grace. Yet he was also full of truth. 

What does it mean to be full of truth? Is he full of his own opinions? No. He is full of absolutes - truths that never change. It's comforting to know that there is no variables with God. The truth is the truth is the truth and nothing can or ever will change it. It's solid. It's strong. It's something we can count on. It is, and it is grace exemplified - is it not? 

Verse 16 states that from Christ's fullness of grace and truth we receive grace upon grace. Oceans of grace. Unfathomable grace. Grace without end - covering us no matter the sorrow or sin. Grace that makes all things work together for our good and for his glory.

Grace and truth do coexist. Does this bring you comfort?  

It's a new year...

What will it bring? Do I want to know? If someone had told me at the beginning of last year all that I would have to endure, it would have been too much for me. Yet, I'm amazed how God's grace has carried me through. And that's what I'm depending on to get me through this new year. If there's one thing God has impressed upon me this year, it's how totally sovereign he is and how comforting it is to know he's totally sovereign.

As I go into the new year, I'm reflecting on "newness". Isn't that what trials are all about? To continue growing us and making us more like Christ? I think if I were to have a new year's resolution, it would be that whatever God brings into my life this year, I would trust him through it all - submitting to him and depending on him to carry me through.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has 
passed away; behold, the new has come." 
~2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV