Sunday, March 28, 2010

Outreach Reflections from Psalm 4

Subtitle: The light of God’s presence brings Hope, Peace, and Joy.

“Many are saying, “Who can show us anything good?” Let the light of Your presence shine on us, O LORD. You put more joy in my heart than when their grain and new wine increase. I fall asleep in peace the moment I lie down because you alone, O LORD, enable me to live securely” (Psalm 4:6-8, God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society,

As I read Psalm 4 looking for words of encouragement and motivation for Christian outreach, verses 6 through 8 reminded me of a praise and worship song that is commonly sung in many churches. The refrain from this song always rings in my ears long after the music stops.

“Shine, Jesus, Shine, fill this land with the Father’s glory; Blaze, Spirit, blaze, set our hearts on fire. Flow, river, flow; flood the nations with grace and mercy. Send forth Your Word, Lord, and let there be light” (Graham Kendrick, 1987).

This song is a prayer, calling for God to ignite a fire within us, that would lead us to have a burning passion to bring glory to God by telling others of Jesus Christ. In Psalm 4, David states that many are questioning and doubting that anything in life is good. David’s reply indicates that he will find his joy, peace, and security in the LORD. He states that these come from the presence of the LORD in his life. In the beginning of verse 6, David calls on God to shine the light of His presence on His people.

When we are asked similar questions about anything in life being good, we can follow David’s lead and point people to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We know that through His death and resurrection, Jesus has freed us from sin, death, and the Devil. In two different accounts in the Gospel of John, Jesus stated that He was the Light of the world. In John 8:12 – “Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will have a life filled with light and will never live in the dark” (God’s Word, 1995, In John 12:46, Jesus said, “I am the light that has come into the world so that everyone who believes in me will not live in the dark” (God’s Word, 1995,

Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of what most Christian’s call Holy Week. Throughout the week we will be reflecting on the suffering and death of Jesus Christ for our sins, and eagerly waiting for the celebration of the risen Christ on Easter Sunday morning. This celebration is just too good to keep to ourselves! Christ burst from the tomb in radiant glory on that first Easter morning. He has conquered death. We no longer need to be afraid of dying, because we will live forever in Jesus Christ. That is certainly good news to share with those who only see doom and gloom in their lives. May the light of the presence of Christ shine on you today and may you reflect that light onto your doubting neighbors and friends.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Outreach Reflections from Psalm 3

Subtitle: March madness the countdown to victory.

It’s that time of the year again when the NCAA basketball tournament playoffs are the focus of the American sport’s world. Last week Thursday the playoffs began. Unfortunately my favorite team (the Minnesota Gophers) lost in the first round of play. The surprise upset in the tournament so far has to be Northern Iowa, who knocked off Kansas (a number one seated team) in the second round of play. So what does this have to do with Christian outreach and God’s promises? Just this – we may be just hopefully guessing when we pick our playoff brackets, but when it comes to picking the real winning team in life, we don’t have to guess! We know who it is and who is leading the team.

King David wrote that his enemies would say he was on a losing team. “Many are saying about me, “Even with God on his side he won’t be victorious” (Psalm 3:2, God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society,

But he had faith that God would prevail against his enemies even if everyone else considered him to be out numbered and destined to lose. Listen to David’s words written as he was fleeing for his life from his rebellious son, who had won over the hearts of almost all of David’s people; the nation of Israel.

“But you, O LORD, are a shield that surrounds me. You are my glory. You hold my head high. I call aloud to the LORD, and He answers me from His holy mountain. I lie down and sleep. I wake up again because the LORD continues to support me. I am not afraid of the tens of thousands who have taken positions against me on all sides” (Psalm 3:3-6, God’s Word,

Are you afraid to share your faith with others? Do feel at times as if you have been placed on a losing team? You see the need and the number of those who are opposed to Jesus Christ, and then just feel overwhelmed? It happens to the best of God’s servants. But the good news is that we have the inside scoop. We know the outcome of this battle. We can fill out our bracket card with certainty. God is with us. Jesus Christ has won the victory for us by His death and resurrection. Therefore we can go out and boldly proclaim with King David, “Victory belongs to the LORD!” (Psalm 3:8, God’s Word,

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Outreach Reflections from Psalm 2

Sub title: Christ the Messiah is the king of Zion.

Are you afraid to speak about Jesus Christ or give witness to Him as our Lord and Savior? It is natural to have such fear. The message of Jesus Christ is not politically correct. There are many people who believe that God is a loving God, and yet reject the message of Jesus Christ as being far too radical. They see Jesus as a great teacher and prophet, yet they believe that he went too far when he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father except through me. If you have known me, you will also know my Father. From now on you know him through me and have seen him in me” (John 14:6,7, God’s Word, 1995). * (Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society,

These people are offended when we proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God. But that should not surprise us, because Jesus has already warned us that we will hated by the world because of Him.

In Psalm 2 we are told that the kings of the nations plot against God and His Son. They gather and conceive of all sorts of plans to do away with the commandments of God. They legalize sinful behavior and impose punishments upon those who get in their way. They persecute people who stand up for Jesus Christ. People are imprisoned for sharing their faith with their neighbors or leading someone to faith in Jesus Christ. The leaders of the nations gather for world peace, global warming, and other summits, but ignore the rights of children used as slaves, pollution, and other inhumanities, that get in the way of their profiteering.

Where is the comfort in this Psalm? What are the promises that we can hang on to that will give us encouragement? They are found in two sections. First, God states:

“I have installed my own king on Zion, my holy mountain.” I will announce the Lord’s decree. He said to me: “You are my Son. Today I have become you Father. Ask me, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance and the ends of the earth as your own possession. You will break them with an iron scepter. You will smash them to pieces like pottery.” (vs. 6-9).

Jesus has already smashed the power of Satan through His death and resurrection. The power of Satan and his rulers are a folly before God. God laughs at their feeble attempts to alter His commandments or when they ignore His judgments against them (v. 3-4). Jesus has been given the world as His inheritance. He reigns as the king of Zion. But that is not all that is promised.

Psalm 2 ends with this promise. “Blessed is everyone who takes refuge in him” (v. 12). Jesus, God’s Son, is our refuge. In Him we will receive an inheritance with Him in His kingdom. For everyone who believes in Christ as his or her Lord and Savior will also reign with Christ in His glory (John 14). This is good news! Rejoice, and tell this good news to others.

DCO Peter

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Outreach Reflections from Psalm 1

I have completed my final assignments for the Masters of Arts in Christian Outreach program that I have been taking online through Concordia University, St. Paul, Minnesota. It feels so good to be done! In my last course I was introduced to a book written by Dr. Philip Bickel titled Outreach Promises (Roller Coaster Press, 1998) . The concept and purpose of Outreach Promises is to seek and find Biblical promises from God to enable you to share your faith “whenever you have opportunity to serve and speak in the name of Christ” (p. 5). I have decided to take the challenge to find outreach promises in the Psalms and reflect on the encouragement that they provide for us as we go about sharing Christ’s love with others. It is my prayer that my words and reflections will be an encouragement to you. I hope that they will help you to see the opportunities that God has placed before you to be His witness. I have come to understand that outreach begins with us where we are and the best opportunities to carry out God’s mission is to the people around us. I hope this discussion allows us to have a dialogue with each other and will allow me to be as much a student as I am a teacher. I have chosen to use God’s Word (Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society) for all of my texts. I like this translation because of its contemporary use of the English language. It is very easy to read and, especially in the Psalms, it has retained the poetic style of the songs.
Psalm 1: 1-3 "Blessed is the person who does not follow the advice of wicked people, take the path of sinners, or join the company of mockers. Rather, he delights in the teachings of the Lord and reflects on His teachings day and night. He is like a tree planted beside streams – a tree that produces fruit in season and whose leaves do not wither. He succeeds in everything he does."
God promises that He will flow through us with His Word like life-giving water flows through a tree. This Word of God brings life and provides for the re-creation of life. Healthy trees bear fruit. And what is the fruit of a tree? Another tree. Healthy trees produce seeds that have the potential to grow into new healthy trees. Not all seeds become new trees, but in their season seeds germinate and become new trees. In this outreach promise we are told that God will work through us to produce fruit. Our task is to remain close to the source of the life-giving water. God’s role is to keep us healthy, full of joy and seed producing. God is the one who produces the fruit. So the pressure is off. Live in Christ. Delight in His Word. Grow seeds and let them fall around you or blow in the wind. Then when your seeds fall to the ground, trust that God will allow some of those seeds to grow into the next generation of seed producing trees.