Lessons From A Lame Man

Posted in Evangelism, Friendship, Relationships, Salvation, witnessing by PCraig on January 12, 2017

One day some men brought a paralyzed man to Jesus lying on a mat. The Bible (Matthew 9:2) says something interesting, that “when Jesus saw THEIR faith…” He did something. There are several things that speak to me out of this passage from the One Year Bible. One thing is that it’s important to have good friends. You need some friends that will carry you to Jesus if they have to.

Another thing is that Jesus is moved by the faith of people around you and not just you. That means you better how some people of faith around you. Who knows how many of us have been impacted by the prayers of a grandparent, parent or friend?

Then, I see that Jesus is more concerned about the man’s spiritual need than his physical need. Keep in mind that it was the physical need that drew him there, but Jesus wanted to remedy the paralysis in this man’s heart. His greatest need wasn’t his legs, it was his life.

Some lessons for us:

  • Be the kind of person that brings others to Jesus.
  • Listen for the pain in others that leads to an opportunity to invite them to Jesus.
  • Don’t be too busy to carry others burdens in prayer or personally.

The fact that these men got involved in this paralytics life, enabled him to walk away physically and spiritually healed. Who could you get involved with and bring closer to Jesus this week?

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The Day Grace Ran

Posted in Evangelism, Love, Love for God, Salvation by PCraig on April 7, 2016

There are a lot of amazing things to see, experience and hear in life, for example: a newborn baby, the stars, and Niagara Falls, just to name a few.  But, for me, nothing fits the description of amazing more than the grace shown to others and me by God.

Grace defined by Webster is, unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification; a virtue coming from God.  I heard it said as, God’s unmerited favor toward us.

Nowhere is this revealed more explicitly than the story Jesus told of the Prodigal Son.  Now, I grew up hearing about this story, but it’s only been in recent years that the power of the message pierced my heart like never before.  As you may know, the narrative is that the younger of two sons, takes his inheritance early and goes out and blows it on wild living.  He parties hard until the money runs out.  When it runs out, the friends run out too.

This isn’t the most incredible running is the story however.  Jesus goes on to say that the young man realizes what a fool he’s been and that life was so much better in the father’s house.  So, he comes up with a speech to say to his dad in the hopes that he can at least move back as a servant.

Now, here’s where it gets crazy and blows the minds of the listeners.  Jesus says, the dad is looking down the road as the son is coming home and actually runs out to meet him, so that he can tell him what an idiot he’s been – NO!  The purpose of the running is to get to his son as fast as he can and throw his arms around him, show his love, restore his place and celebrate his return.  If that’s a picture of our Heavenly Father’s reaction to us coming home to Him – wow!  That’s all I got, amazing, astonishing, overwhelming, beyond description.  That’s our God.

Why wouldn’t everyone love Him?  Why would anyone ever want to leave?  Who wouldn’t want the power of grace in their lives?

For those who have experienced this kind of grace that goes beyond comprehension, our job is now to invite others into the Father’s house.  It’s a place of return, restoration, and revel.  Not everyone knows and understands it, so like Jesus, let’s spread the true story of a Father’s love.

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2 x 2

Posted in Evangelism, holiday, Impact, Relationships, Salvation, witnessing by PCraig on March 19, 2015

We finally got the rest of our Christmas decorations down the other day (don’t judge me, we’ve been busy J) and it’s already time for Easter – I can’t believe it!  In just two weeks from this coming Sunday we will be celebrating the greatest event in history, the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Here’s what I would like to suggest:  over the next two weeks, let’s do everything we can to bring two people to church with us.  You don’t have to drive them necessarily, though that helps to ensure they show up, but we can invite them.

I saw a recent statistic that said that approximately 20% of people were undecided yet on whether they would attend church on Easter.  Friend, that is one out of every five people you meet.

Just yesterday I was out to lunch with someone and as he was paying the bill, he invited the server to Easter services.  He also informed her that I was the pastor.  Instead of just saying a polite, “Thank you,” she said she was looking for a church to attend on Easter and wanted her child to go.  I spoke up and told her that her kid would love our church.  I pray she follows through and shows up.  What’s interesting is my friend said that if I hadn’t been with him, he probably wouldn’t have spoken up to invite her.

Let’s do what we can to impact two people in two weeks and reach at least one more for Jesus.  If we all do that, imagine how it will move from addition to multiplication.

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Ever Lost Your Cell Phone?

Posted in Evangelism, Joy, Perspective, Salvation, Used of God, witnessing by PCraig on July 24, 2014

Have you ever lost anything of value (cell phone) and turned the house upside down to find it?  My wife may or may not have recently lost her cell phone and thought she might have left it somewhere.  It was like it disappeared.  We looked everywhere in the house for it, called it (of course it was on silent) and searched anywhere we thought it could be all to no avail.  Ultimately we discovered the phone was in the garbage in our garage!  By the way, if you think I’m telling on my wife, let me say that at least she has never driven off with her phone on the roof of the car like someone else may have done once in their lives.  (That story didn’t end well)

Here’s my point, when you have something of value that is lost you will do whatever it takes, spending time and energy to find it.  Jesus told a story about this that involved a woman who lost             one of her ten silver coins.  He said she will do whatever it takes until she finds it.  The story is found in Luke 15:8-10 and once again illustrates the principle of seeking after lost people.

In this second of three successive stories of Jesus, there are a few things I would like to highlight:

  • She searches “carefully” until she finds it, which implies she is deliberate in the pursuit.
  • She also is very diligent in the hunt and will not rest until the coin is found.

These imply to us:

  • The value of one lost person.  Everyone matters to God.
  • Love will search carefully, not casually for the lost.
  • Love cannot sit still while there is still a chance of find those who are lost.

Lastly, as in the prior story, Jesus says there is “rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  So, if you want to get heaven excited, find one more lost person.

We’re challenging our church family to reach out to one person each week and invite them to church on August 17.  On that date, we are having an “everyone bring one” Sunday with former American Idol finalist, Phil Stacey as our guest.  But, you don’t have to wait another moment when the stakes are as high as eternal life.  For whom do you need to search carefully, locate for God and then celebrate?  I think the angels are ready!

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What The Resurrection Means For You Today

“I have seen the Lord”!  With those words, everything changed.  Mary Magdalene came back from the empty tomb to the disciples to report that Jesus had risen from the dead and had actually talked with her.  From that point on, her life and the lives of many others were never the same again.

What does the resurrection of Jesus mean for you and I today?  Here are just a few things:

  • A guarantee of eternal life (John 11:25-26 – Sunday’s text!)
  • Demonstrated His power over death (Acts 2:24)
  • Secures our forgiveness (1 Cor. 15:17)
  • Safeguards our resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20-23)
  • Gives us hope in hard times (2 Cor. 1:8-11)

Today, we think about His sacrifice, suffering and separation He endured for our sins, but not without hope for resurrection.  The cross would mean nothing if not for the empty tomb.  Praise God for those who said, “I have seen the Lord” and those who having not seen, yet believe.

Be sure to do all you can to invite someone to be your guest in Easter services this weekend.  Let others know what the resurrection can mean for them today.

 

 

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Can I Get A Witness?

Posted in Evangelism, Impact, Salvation, Weekend Reflections, witnessing by PCraig on February 2, 2012

You can’t argue with someone who was blind and now they can see.  What can you say to them?  “You’re not really seeing” or “Maybe you only thought you couldn’t see.”  Those don’t really stack up against a person who is currently describing things in detail that they currently view but were unable to see before.

That was the case with a man in the Bible who was healed by Jesus and confronted by religious people (John 9).   This religious group was more interested in whether or not Jesus believed the way they believed than they were about the miracle that had happened.  However, when they tried to get this young man to enter an argument about religion, all he came back with was, “I don’t know whether he’s (Jesus) is good or bad, all I know is once I was blind, but now I can see.”

Some of us are afraid to share our faith because of concern that it will lead to an argument over Scripture and perhaps our own embarrassment.

While it may be possible to argue doctrine, how do you argue with experience?  A witness simply shares what they’ve seen or heard.  They are not appointed to bring judgment, instead they only report what they experienced.

To be a witness for Jesus, all you need to be able to do is report what you’ve seen, heard or experienced.  It’s hard to argue doctrine with someone who stands in front of you declaring, “once I was blind, but now I can see.”

How could you share your experience with Jesus with someone else?   What positive changes has He made in your life that you could share with others?

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Bread of Life

Posted in Salvation by PCraig on April 24, 2010

I was asked to clarify the meaning behind Jesus saying I am the “Bread of Life.”  One of the questions is “what is the bread of life”?  Just like bread is sustenance for life, Jesus is our source of eternal life.  If Jesus is our source of eternal life, then He doesn’t need anything to be added to that. 

Some believe that you have to add baptism to belief in Christ in order to be fully saved, however, the thief on the cross was promised heaven because of his belief without an opportunity to get sprinkled or immersed.  The only verse that mentions belief and baptism is found in Mark 16:16, which is a passage that is not found in the earliest manuscripts. 

Other passages throughout the New Testament seem to indicate that once a person is saved by taking in the “bread of life”, then they follow that confession up with an outward sign of baptism.  Baptism is then the outward sign of the inward work of salvation, just like a wedding ring is of the covenant of marriage. 

We can’t earn salvation by getting baptized, tithing, witnessing, or anything else that WE do.  It is ALL of HIM, FROM HIM and DUE HIM that we are saved.  Salvation is by grace alone, it is not of works lest we should boast.  That’s why we sing “It’s all about You, Lord.”  As soon as we partake of His salvation (spiritual bread) we are saved!

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