You are a Witness: Video Message

Happy Easter! My prayer is that you and your family had a wonderful time together, whether in person or digitally!

This week, I would like to share a message with you that I preached this past Sunday for Victory Christian Church. In this sermon, I explain that just as Mary Madalene ran to the disciples and exclaimed “I have seen the Lord!”, God has called us, also, to be witnesses of his resurrection to the world around us! May it be a blessing to you!

Motivated by Obedience

Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my commands.” (John 14:15) Obedience is required in the Christian life. There are times we all wish it was not, but the consequences of disobedience have the ability to remind us of this: You are always better off when you obey God.

Think about following a recipe. If you get just one ingredient wrong, it ruins what you are making. I remember one time my wife was making her famous chocolate chip cookies. We were very surprised at how poorly they turned out when she had to make them without baking soda. Such a small quantity of such a seemingly insignificant ingredient makes such a big difference. My taste buds can testify, you have to follow the recipe! And just as you have to follow the recipe to produce the best cookies, so we must follow God’s Word to produce the best life.

Why is obedience difficult? It is difficult because it puts someone else in charge instead of ourselves. As humans, we want to run the ship. “Don’t tell me what to do” could be somewhat of an American anthem. However, the humble Christian wakes up each morning saying, “Lord, tell me what to do. You know best. When I lead, I ultimately end up messing things up.”

Prayer is the great link between the knowledge to obey and the action of obeying. Jesus prayed “Not my will but yours be done.” How powerful that prayer is! And what a difference this prayer would make in our lives if we prayed it from our heart each day. While the words we say in prayer and the condition of our heart as we speak them are important, time in prayer is also vitally important.

We must be people who learn to sit patiently with God. The Bible teaches the principle of waiting on God. See the imagery of Psalm 130:5-6:

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His Word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.

In those times, the watchman were assigned their post until the first sight of day break. Thus, as they grew tired during the night, they were eager for the sun to breakthrough the darkness. We must mimic their endurance as we wait for God’s Presence to breakthrough our darkness. Jesus can be a great encouragement to us as He was observed praying through the whole night. Let’s follow His example and make a true connection with God instead of rushing through our prayer times.

The reason lingering with God is so important is because it builds trust. And we are willing to obey the people that we trust. I have asked God why I don’t obey Him and I have heard Him respond, “It’s because you do not trust me.” Think about it, if we trusted what God’s Word says about a matter, we would do it. However, often times we doubt His ways and have to live with the consequences of choosing our own path.

We are willing to obey the people that we trust.

When it comes to witnessing, there is a very simple command God gives us in Scripture. “Go into the world and preach the Gospel to everyone.” It is amazing the fruit that can come from simple obedience to this command. Those that accept this command with childlike faith and put it into practice experience the joy of seeing others saved.

If you are not being obedient to this command, ask yourself, “Do I not trust God?” And further, “Am I not spending enough time with Him to trust His Word?” If you struggle with these questions, say a simple prayer now asking God to help you trust Him and admitting in humility where you lack. He has the supply for all you need. He will answer you.

The late evangelist Reinhard Bonnke was faced with a difficult decision of obedience when He first began ministering in Africa. He was convinced that God had asked Him to go there and preach the Gospel. Shortly after He responded to the call God had given him, the leaders from his mission board came to observe his work. After seeing the the ways He was starting to expand his ministry they instructed him to shut it down and follow the pattern the organization had set for all its missionaries.

Faced with a difficult decision on whether or not to obey His leaders, He prayed by himself in a hotel room. In that room, God spoke to Bonnke that if he dropped the vision, it would be given to someone else. Bonnke promptly resigned from the mission’s organization and followed the recipe God had given Him to reach Africa. Bonnke’s evangelistic ministry went on to win 75 million people to Jesus Christ.

There is great power in our “yes” to God. May you and I be obedient today as God calls us to share the best news ever with a world who desperately needs to hear it.

Me on the Altar: Final day!

Welcome to the 5th and final attribute of a Living Sacrifice. I pray that these devotionals have been a blessing to you.

Day 5: Sacrifices are…Committed

Sacrifices do not leave. They can’t! They’re dead on an altar! However, when it comes to our call to be living sacrifices- oh, how squirmy we can get! God wants committed believers. Anyone can serve God for a day. But will you give him your life?

If you want to be a sacrifice that does not leave, you have to learn to not be in a hurry. Theologian Dallas Willard once said, “Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” Why is hurry so dangerous? Because it produces anxiety and more mistakes are made when we are in a rush. God asks us to be people who wait on Him, seek Him and petition Him. None of those can be done in 30 seconds, between text messages. These take time…and commitment.

I was once talking to my Pastor after he had just shared Christ with someone we had met while walking. I commented to my Pastor on the vast number of broken people that each of us encounter on a daily basis. He responded by saying, “It should teach us to walk slowly.” Walk slowly. I have never forgotten that. A living sacrifice stays long enough to hear God’s voice and looks long enough to see His lost sons and daughters in their time of need.

I pray God would give you the grace to be a be living sacrifice useful for His Kingdom today. Step onto the altar and watch what God can do through you. Amen.

Me on the Altar: Day 4

5 Attributes of a Living Sacrifice: #4

Sacrifices are:

4. Not Afraid of the Knife (Vulnerable)

Often times before I take the pulpit to preach, I imagine myself laid on an alter with a knife coming down through me. This image helps me to remember the truth found in John 12:24, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” You and I are only fruitful when our flesh is crucified and our spirit is alive in Christ.

The knife also reminds me of the Lord’s pruning. We know that he prunes those who abide in Him (John 15:2) and he disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:6). If we allow these verses to sink deep into our hearts, we will learn to embrace rather than avoid the knife. God’s pruning is actually evidence of our salvation and usefulness to God.

Image result for animal being sacrificed

Think about the vulnerability that is displayed when an animal is on the butcher’s block. We are called to have that kind of vulnerability with God. Let us pray that God would know our hearts, and shape them any way needed for them to be just like His heart.

Me on the Altar: Day 3 + Special Invitation

5 Attributes of a Living Sacrifice+ Day 3

Sacrifices are…

3. Fully Yielded

Imagine again the lamb used in the Moasic Law sacrifices. As it is laid on the altar, it is fully accessible for the priest to use. It has no more fight in it. It has been brought into submission by a stronger being. In the same way, we must become fully yielded and surrendered to God.

Recently, my friend and I were planning to go out for an afternoon of sharing our faith at a local mall. I remember on this particular day, I did not feel at all like going out witnessing. I was thinking how much I would rather be sleeping or spending time with my family. I remember feeling a strong opposition in my flesh and telling my wife, “I really don’t want to go out today.” Finally, I dragged myself up to my room and began to pray. I did not pray long and did not have much energy in me to give to God. I simply made a decision to surrender to Him. I said, “Here I am. I will be obedient and go.”

Can I tell you, that was the most fruitful time of evangelism I have had in months?! In fact, we had a great opportunity with a young man walking before we even left the neighborhood. Then, on our way into the mall, we were able to pray with a woman going through some family struggles and she was moved to tears. Both happened before we even entered the mall! Then, we were privileged to have several Gospel conversations while inside. Friends, I cannot take credit for anything that happened that day. The only thing I did was yield my will to God’s will. And we are all capable of doing that!

Special Invitation

Lou Engle, an international church and prayer leader has called a 3-day fast to stand against the Coronavirus. You can read his call to action and consider joining here:

Me on the Altar: Day 2

5 Attributes of a Living Sacrifice

Sacrifices are…

2. Purposed to Worship

Picture yourself laying on an alter. What is the purpose of you becoming a living sacrifice? Paul gives us the answer with the last word of Romans 12:1- worship. You must understand that your purpose is to glorify God and not yourself. Too often I find myself as I minister, whether inside or outside the church, thinking about how good I will look for what I am doing. This thought is shameful. It is the opposite of a sacrifice. Living sacrifices give themselves for a higher cause, namely God’s Kingdom. Self-lovers want those around them to bow to them and their idolatrous image.

Imagine a lamb getting up on the alter thinking to itself, “I can’t wait to post this picture on my Instagram so the other sheep know I was chosen and I am being used by God.” Nobody wants to see a dead, bloody animal. But they do want to see an a nation’s sins forgiven by a gracious God- which was the result of animal sacrifice in the Old Testament.

And can I be honest with you? Nobody wants to see you either. They long to see Christ in you, the hope of eternity. That is true worship.

“Let Them See You in Me” JJ Weeks Band

Me on the Altar

New Devotional Style Blog released each day this week!

Romans 12:1

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.

Jesus and self cannot coexist if we want to be effective spreaders of the Gospel. When we truly become living sacrifices and put ourselves on the altar, then we are able to have Christ flow through us to those who desperately need Him. There are 5 attributes of a living sacrifice that will help you be useful to God:

Sacrifices are…???

Look in your inbox tomorrow for the first of 5 attributes of a living sacrifice!!!

Me on the Altar

5 Attributes of a Living Sacrifice: Monday Devotional

Sacrifices are…

1. Pure and Spotless

In Exodus 12:5, God gives instruction to Israel what kind of lamb he is looking for in their sacrifices. “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats.”

Image result for lamb without blemish

Do you realize that God is looking for the same qualifications in you as a living sacrifice? As you bring yourself before the Lord to be used by Him, you must ask yourself, “Am I without blemish?” Is there any known sin in your life that needs to be confessed to God? Are you willing to ask God to search your heart and see if there is anything offense to Him persisting in you (Psalm 139:23-24)? Once you have consecrated your heart and life to Christ, which is truly a daily choice, you are ready to step onto the altar.

Jesus shares a startling statement in the middle of His Sermon on the Mount. It has been called the most terrifying verse in Scripture. Jesus says in Matthew 7:22-23,

“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Jesus key words here are, “I never knew you.” So, what should we do? Say this simple prayer today. “Jesus, know me.” This prayer has the power to be so sobering, yet so intimate. Lord, come so close to me that Your Presence casts off my impurities. Then, I will be the kind of sacrifice you are looking for! And be assured today, you don’t have to be purified to come to Him. He purifies you as you commune with Him.

My Response to the Coronavirus

Let me begin by sharing both an observation and something Jesus said that is unbelievably relevant to our current events.

First, my observation. The emotion of fear is the most controlling emotion we experience. While love is the most powerful, fear is the most controlling. God does not author fear, He authors faith. The coronavirus and the news reports about it sure has the power to create fear, don’t they?!

Secondly, here is what Jesus said in Luke 21:26, “On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world.” Jesus spoke these words in response to His disciples about the end drawing near. The words used in this sentence refer to “anguish, anxiety, fear and doubt” about what is going on in the world. Sounds familiar to our present day, does it not? So, how are we to respond?

1. Compassion

Let me ask you a question. When you first caught wind of the coronavirus, which did you think first: I hope those affected are OK, or I hope I don’t get it. You answer could show you us a lot about how you’re doing with selfishness. Our first response should be like Jesus- compassion. Praying God heals those affected. Praying for the families that are under distress. Praying that the church in the affected areas has a chance to shine. And that the Gospel is able to go forth in the darkness! Let us be moved first with compassion anytime we hear other people are suffering.

2. Caution

When you hear the word caution, you probably think I am going to start talking about all the ways we should be caution so we do not get the virus. Nope. Consider this thought. From the reports, it is clear that someone, somewhere, at some point, made a mistake. Whether they brought something out of a lab in error or sold meat that was unsanitary at a market, they made a mistake. They were not cautious enough and it has had lethal ramifications.

I think this is a good opportunity for us to look at our lives and our actions. Do you realize that your words and actions have consequences? Some are good and some bad. Proverbs 4:26 says, “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.” Give careful thought to each step you take. A little sin can do a lot of damage. Be cautious with your life. It is precious and so are others’ lives around you.

And, yes. You should be washing your hands and drinking lots of water these days, too.

3. Christ

Isn’t it a joy to know that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever? While viruses attack and tornadoes destroy, our God is unchanging. Many are filled with fear by the coronavirus, even some of you reading this blog post. And while I completely understand, I want to challenge you to look to Christ and not the virus. We can trust God with our lives. In the unlikely event that He did allow one of us to be affected by this virus, we can rest assured He would use it for our glory if we are one of His children.

The Bible says, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” We could say the same about the coronavirus. The only reason it is scary is because it has proven deadly. However, if you are a believer in Christ, you do not have to fear death. These uncertain times should simply draw us into Jesus. If you feel afraid, talk to Him about it. He will give you perfect peace as you trust Him with your life. Your eternity and future are secure in Him.

Closing thought: Jesus went on to give us the answer in Luke 21:36 to his comments about men’s fears with the uncertainty of times. He says two simple truths, “Watch and pray that you may be counted worthy to stand before the Son of Man.” Friend, just watch and pray.

God, I ask with boldness that you would stop this cornovirus. You are our healer and you are more powerful than this illness. Would you break off this attack in Jesus’ name and show your power. I pray that those affected would come to know you during this time. You said that if anyone calls on your name, they will be saved. Thank you for your peace and salvation. We love you. Amen.

Motivated by Love

What should motivate us to share out faith? The answer is love and obedience. The two go hand in hand. In fact, Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will obey my commands.” Our obedience proves our love. Today, we are going zero in on the motivation of love.

Love. Love should be the motivation for our witnessing. Our love for other’s lives and eternities should compel us to share the hope we have found. Here are 3 reason why we should be witnesses motivated by love.

1- God was motivated by love.

Since God’s motivation to come to us was love, our motivation to go to the lost should be the same. John 3:16 states clearly, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” Why did God have Jesus crucified on our behalf? It was love. And that is our example. God would not stop at any length, including giving up his own child to reach us. Let us be willing to be radically selfless and compassionate as we reach out to unbelievers with the good news of Jesus.

2- Love has power.

Mediate on these truths from Scripture.

  • “Love covers a multitude of sins” 1 Peter 4:8
  • “Perfect love casts out fear” 1 John 4:18
  • “These three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13
  • “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Galatians 5:6

Love is the most powerful force that God has given to us. We must ask Him to give us it in abundance because of the power it possesses. If someone has sin, love can cover it. If someone is afraid (or maybe you are afraid to share your faith), love can cast the fear out. It is the greatest virtue of all. As we share our faith, may our relationships and conversations be covered with love.

3- Love softens people’s hearts.

When we approach a friend or first time acquaintance with the Gospel, our approach is important. If we come across as genuinely interested in someone’s life and happy to be talking to them, it will go a long way. If we are willing to listen to their opinion and their questions, they will feel comfortable. If we show them that we are sharing Jesus with them because we really believe He can help them, they will be more willing to listen. Love helps us to avoid the traps of arguing with people or communicating with a dry, religious posture. Scripture states in 1 Corinthians 8:1, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” When love is our motivation to share Christ, people are more likely to open their hearts to Him.

A few months ago, my friend and I were sharing the Gospel with an atheist. This was our first time meeting him. As we talked, he asked, “Why would you guys come to me to talk about my faith?” I responded that we had come because we loved him and cared about his eternity. My response seemed disarming to him, and he willingly engaged with us for about 20 minutes. We respectfully listened to his perspective and shared truth with him as we were able. We did not convert him that day, but we were able to plant seeds and love helped open to door to the conversation. At one point he remarked, “It is not everyday you get to talk to people about faith like this.” It was clear he was happy we had taken the time to discuss spiritual truth with him.

As we close, I would like to pray for God’s love to motivation your witness.

God, I pray that you would fill us with your love. Your life is better than life. I pray that we would also be full of love for those in our lives who do not yet know you. Would you give us opportunities to share about the hope we have in you? May your love compel us and motivate us to eternity-minded and not earthly-minded. Thank you for your never-ending, unfailing love. Amen.