Monday, November 24, 2014

BOLD Christian Outreach Reflections from Psalm 33

Subtitle: Thank God for His Saving Grace

Joyfully sing to the LORD, you righteous people. Praising {the LORD} is proper for decent people. Give thanks with a lyre to the LORD. Make music for him on a ten-stringed harp. Sing a new song to him. Play beautifully and joyfully on stringed instruments. The word of the LORD is correct, and everything he does is trustworthy. The LORD loves righteousness and justice. His mercy fills the earth. The heavens were made by the word of the LORD and all the stars by the breath of his mouth. He gathers the water in the sea like a dam and puts the oceans in his storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD. Let all who live in the world stand in awe of him. He spoke, and it came into being. He gave the order, and there it stood. The LORD blocks the plans of the nations. He frustrates the schemes of the people of the world. The LORD'S plan stands firm forever. His thoughts stand firm in every generation. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD. Blessed are the people he has chosen as his own.
“The LORD looks down from heaven. He sees all of Adam's descendants. From the place where he sits enthroned, he looks down upon all who live on earth. The one who formed their hearts understands everything they do. No king achieves a victory with a large army. No warrior rescues himself by his own great strength. Horses are not a guarantee for victory. Their great strength cannot help someone escape.
“The LORD'S eyes are on those who fear him, on those who wait with hope for his mercy to rescue their souls from death and keep them alive during a famine. We wait for the LORD. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts find joy. In his holy name we trust. Let your mercy rest on us, O LORD, since we wait with hope for you.” Psalm 33:1-22 (God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society,

This is Thanksgiving week. It is a time when (at least in the past) we would take time to pause and thank God for every blessing we had received from Him and then we would, in good Sabbath fashion, feast on the bounty of those provisions. However, lately it seems that for many Thanksgiving has become the day to check their list of Christmas wants against the Black Friday specials and plan their strategy for scoring the most for the least. Thanking the ONE who has provided for their means has become secondary to acquiring more for themselves. Oh they can justify their actions by saying that they are being good stewards or thrifty or they are just doing their part to stimulate the economy and keep their neighbors employed. But then if someone looks hard enough they can find justification for every action in one way or another. So before we join in that rush to the store for that once in a life-time bargain, let us pause…………… really PAUSE…

In this Psalm we can recount the ways God has provided for us, beginning with the fact that He created us. He formed us physically and spiritually; body and soul! He knows who we are. He knows what we have done. He is engaged in our lives. He fights for us. He is our defender, our help, and our provider. Everything we have has been given to us by Him. So take the time to think about what that means for you today. PAUSE………… and GIVE THANKS TO GOD.

This is our Outreach promise: God rescues those who fear Him; “those who wait with hope for His mercy to rescue their souls from [eternal] death…” In the Psalm we receive the promise that everyone who waits on the LORD will be saved from eternal death. It is God who gives life. It is God who gives us a new life in Jesus Christ. This is a certain truth! 

On this Thanksgiving Day let us pause to THANK God for this promise fulfilled, for giving us salvation and then let us BOLDly tell someone else this good news!  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

BOLD Christian Outreach Reflections from Psalm 32

Sub title: The Freedom of Confession

“A psalm by David; a maskil. Blessed is the person whose disobedience is forgiven and whose sin is pardoned. Blessed is the person whom the LORD no longer accuses of sin and who has no deceitful thoughts. When I kept silent {about my sins}, my bones began to weaken because of my groaning all day long. Day and night your hand lay heavily on me. My strength shriveled in the summer heat. Selah I made my sins known to you, and I did not cover up my guilt. I decided to confess them to you, O LORD. Then you forgave all my sins. Selah”  Psalm 32:1-5 (God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society,

There is a time in my life that I became so caught up in the fulfillment of my personal dreams for success that I sacrificed the relationship with my children and the relationship with my wife on the altar of personal achievement. I was driven to succeed even in the midst of financial ruin. The deeper in debt I became, the harder I worked to survive, and my family paid the price. I expected God to bless my efforts, but in the end I was forced to give up my personal dream. This was a hard pill to swallow and I blamed everyone around me for not caring enough to help me fulfill my dream. In my selfish anger I also rebelled against God.

God did not give up on me. He crushed that rebellious spirit, and humbled me. I finally realized that God loved me, not because I was good or worthy, but because He is a God of love. He desires everyone to be saved. He loved me because I needed to be saved. I had nothing to offer God. I was broken and helpless, but He had everything I needed. He gave me forgiveness and the full pardon of my sins. In Christ I was set free.

When I confessed my sin to my wife, she forgave me! I didn’t deserve that kind of unconditional love! I also confessed my sin to my children; it was difficult to admit that I had failed them as a father when they needed me the most. As a result of my selfishness I had lost out on many precious moments with them that I will never be able to reclaim. The most difficult task in this process was forgiving myself. It took many years before I could totally accept God’s unconditional forgiveness for me.

The words of this Psalm still ring clearly in my head and I am always reminded that I am still a sinful being who daily needs the assurance of God’s forgiveness. But I am not alone; Jesus died for everyone and has already paid the price for their sins. Every person who confesses their sin before God will receive a full pardon from Him.

This is our outreach promise. It is God’s Word that convicts people of their sin and it is God who will forgive those who confess their sin. “Day and night your hand lay heavily on me. My strength shriveled in the summer heat. I made my sins known to you, and I did not cover up my guilt. I decided to confess them to you, O LORD. Then you forgave all my sins.” Psalm 32:4-5 (God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society,

BOLDly share this good news with those you love: it is the most loving gift you can give.  

Friday, November 14, 2014

BOLD Christian Outreach Reflections from Psalm 31

Sub title: God’s Hiding Place

Psalm 31:14-20   I trust you, O LORD. I said, “You are my God.” My future is in your hands. Rescue me from my enemies, from those who persecute me. Smile on me. Save me with your mercy. O LORD, I have called on you, so do not let me be put to shame, Let wicked people be put to shame. Let them be silent in the grave. Let {their} lying lips be speechless, since they speak against righteous people with arrogance and contempt. Your kindness is so great! You reserve it for those who fear you. Adam's descendants watch as you show it to those who take refuge in you. You hide them in the secret place of your presence from those who scheme against them. You keep them in a shelter, safe from quarrelsome tongues. (God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society,

The primary focus of this blog is to encourage Christians to BOLDly share their faith with friends, neighbors, and others they meet as they are going about their daily tasks. It is a reflection on the sure promises of God to gather unto Himself all who call out to Him and seek refuge in His embrace. To understand the principles of this saving faith it is helpful to remember that God desires everyone to be saved and to trust in Him for salvation. 

However, this saving faith comes from God as a gift and may be rejected by those who are content in living for themselves and by themselves because of their love of sin and sinful pleasures in life.

David’s enemies had selfish ambitions in mind. Their desire was to obtain power through David’s demise. Their true master was the deceiver (Satan) who delights in corrupting the minds of God’s people and turning them against Him. 

This still happens today when people who call themselves Christians live for their own glory and power at the expense and welfare of those around them. It could be as subtle as fudging a few numbers on a tax form, or jacking the price on a product, or turning away from those in need when the means to help is within their wallet. 

Christians also live for themselves when they hold on to the riches of salvation and eternal life but fail to share those with their neighbors and friends who do not yet know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

God forgives our sins. He hides us in that secret place of His presence where Satan cannot get to us, that is, unless we give him the opportunity to come back into our lives, which he, of course, is so willing and eager to do.  God’s promise of salvation is fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

He is our rock and our refuge. 

But we cannot take this salvation for granted. It is ours through faith that is given as a free gift from God; however this faith must be nurtured and exercised if it is to develop and grow into a lasting relationship with God.

It is easy to say “You are my God. My future is in your hands.”, it is quite another thing to actually put that into practice. But when we do, people take notice, which then gives us an opportunity to bear witness to “the hope that is in us” that Peter refers in his letter to the church. 

My encouragement to you is that you live BOLDly for the Lord in whatever circumstances you find yourselves in, and then, intentionally tell others of the hope you have been given through faith in Jesus Christ.