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Giving a Reason for Our Hope

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“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”  – 1 Peter 3:15

In church, we talked about sharing our faith in winsome and effective ways.  A quick review:

When witnessing, we should always keep in mind …

  1. Our Attitude – we should be reaching out to them in love, as the father does in the parable of the Prodigal Son.  We also need to realize that sometimes people are antagonistic to Christians because they have some underlying pain. We need compassion.
  2. Share the Truth, not clever arguments – it’s the Word of God that convicts and converts souls, not our legalism, philosophy, or debate skills.  We are in a spiritual battle, not a battle of wits.
  3. Be Humble – Not only does God oppose the proud (1 Peter 5:5), but puffed up arrogance gets us nowhere.  If we can remember that we are just as in need of God’s grace and mercy as they are, that will help
  4. Be Winsome – there is a spiritual “harvest” that is ready (Matthew 9:37), but every soul is not ready for the harvest.  Some need more time.  We must recognize different stages of spiritual growth, and guide people along to take the next step.
  5. Intercede for Them – if you don’t pray for them, who will?  And remember … before you talk to that person about God, talk to God about that person.

These are great things to keep in mind as we prepare to give a reason for the hope that we have in Jesus Christ!

I am praying for you as you share your faith!  May God make you bold, and open the hearts and minds of the people you are praying for, and reaching out to.  May it be for HIS Glory!

– Pastor Augie.

Q&A: Why Do We Pray “If It Be Your Will?”

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Q: I have a relative who would like to know where in the Bible it says, “God Willing.”  Why do we say that when we pray?

A: There are others, but here are two significant places in the Bible where we are encouraged to pray according to God’s Will:

  • “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)
  • “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42)

When we pray, we pray for God’s Will.  Jesus both instructed us to do that in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6), but He also modeled it when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:42).  Sometimes people will say that we weaken the prayer by adding the word “if” … but Jesus, himself did it.  Furthermore, we are not praying “if you can do it, God” … because we know He can do all things.  What we are praying is “if it be your will” … meaning that we do not see all things like God does, and we do not presuppose to have all knowledge.  It is entirely possible that God’s will is different than what we desire – we are sinful, weak and selfish.  Wouldn’t it be better to receive what is God’s will, rather than the desire of our sinful heart?

Blessings,

Pastor Augie

P.S.  Praying “if it be your will, Lord” is actually similar to praying “in Jesus’ Name” … since God can’t do anything in the name of Jesus, that is contrary to His will.

Shine Like Stars!

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“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky” (Philippians 2:14-15)

This month at Redeemer, the children at Vacation Bible School will be learning to “Shine!” This year’s VBS theme seems particularly relevant to even the adults at our church. Our mission statement is “to be a lighthouse to our community and the world.” And, what do lighthouses do? … They shine! I firmly believe that if people are going to see the light of Christ in the world today, it is going to be through His people, sharing His Love and His Word! After all, we are to be shining like a city on a hill, right? (Matthew 5:14).

SHINE VBS at Redeemer July, 2014

SHINE VBS at Redeemer July, 2014

In Philippians chapter 2, we are encouraged to stand out among those in a warped and crooked generation. When we live by the light of God’s Word, we do look different than the world – we stand out! And just like the Psalmist exclaims, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1) So we glorify God when we shine like stars in the sky.

It may be difficult for us to see it in our sin-sick world, but we are already bearers of that light and glory of God now! One day that light will be visible for all to see – No one will be able to deny the Light of God nor the Glory of Christ our King when He returns! But for now, that glory is visible to us through the eyes of faith. And our faith directs us to Scripture to see the ways in which the Glory of Christ is present with us now, but will be more fully revealed at Christ’s second coming. The VBS curriculum captures these images of glory in terms of five “crowns” that are in store for Christians. Can you see how we already possess these in Christ?

1. The Crown of VICTORY – Just as an athlete in the Olympic Games would get a wreath (crown) placed on their heads when they were victorious, so do Christians receive a crown of glory after we have completed the course that the Lord has prepared for us. (1 Corinthians 9:25) And yet, we are already victorious in Christ – because He has defeated the enemy for us!

2. The Crown of LIFE – The greatest and final enemy that Christ has defeated is that of death. “Where O death is your victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55). The Bible tells us that when we have stood the test, we will receive the crown of life (James 1:12). And yet, we already have new life in Christ! (Romans 6:4)

3. The Crown of REJOICING – Oh how believers in Jesus will rejoice when He returns in glory! (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20). And yet, those of us who know the Lord, rejoice in Him now (Philippians 4:4). Part of what it means to have the Holy Spirit in us through faith and baptism, means that we already bear the spiritual fruit of joy now (Galatians 5:22).

4. The Crown of GLORY – Many believers today are despised for their faith, and even persecuted. When Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, He encouraged His hearers by reminding them that the meek will one day be glorified in God’s presence. The Apostle Peter echoes this when he says “you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade” (1 Peter 5:4). And yet, even now we bring God glory when we honor and worship Him.

5. The Crown of RIGHTEOUSNESS – We await the consummation and perfection of our righteousness – a time when we will no longer sin. The Bible refers to this as a crown to be awarded to us when Christ returns (2 Timothy 4:8). And yet, even now in Christ, we have become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Please join me in rejoicing that these crowns are ours in Christ! May the knowledge of who we are in Christ allow us to shine brightly for all to see – and in so doing, may we proclaim God’s glory.

Shining Christ’s Light,

Pastor Augie

Acting in Fear …

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There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”  – 1 John 4:18, ESV

The longer I live, and the more I mature in my faith, the more that I realize how many things people do (and *I* do) are motivated out of FEAR.  Take note some time… Not only are there the obvious things like not flying in airplanes, or not eating new foods, but there are even more subtle things that people do out of fear – even church people.  For example, when people argue about music styles, or building changes, or budget, or … etc … aren’t they really just voicing something that they are afraid of?  They are afraid of losing control.  They are afraid of losing significance.  Or they are afraid they will look bad.  Or …

I could go on, but I will just say that in all of this, I have learned that fear is a terrible thing on which to base our actions.  Fear might be a good indicator that you or I need to search our underlying assumptions and even our motives.  But when all is said and done, we should not be acting based on fear.  Rather, when we feel that fear is operating in us, we should expose our fears to the light of Scripture, and to the light of God’s Love.  It is only then that we can truly see our fears in perspective, and see them for what they really are – human based fears.  We are afraid of what others might do, and we are afraid of what we can and can’t protect.  But all of these are just that – fears.

Once we realize, however, what God has to say about the thing that is causing us fear, and about us when we are facing that fear, then we then gain power to act not out of our fear, but rather out of His Love!  Truly, His love has the power to cast out our fears.  For if we know who we are and whose we are in God’s Love through Christ, then we know that whatever it is that we fear has no power over us, since Christ has conquered it.  So instead we lean on God’s power, and He gives us the strength that we need to stand up in the face of our fears – and to act out of Love rather than in response to fear.  In truth, if we are in Christ, what then is there to fear?

May God give you strength and peace in the face of anything that is causing you fear.  May His Love overpower your fears and cause you to be filled with inexpressible hope.

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Augie