Two Vital Behaviors

Today’s reading is John 4.

Jesus demonstrates the two vital behaviors of unashamed gospel sharing and disciple making with the Samaritan woman at the well.

Vital Behavior #1: Make personal connections. Jesus was tired and hungry. Not to mention there were the societal “rules” against talking to Samaritans and the completely “inappropriate” nature of a Jewish man speaking to a Samaritan woman. He had every reason to simply stay within Himself. But He didn’t. He got outside Himself and made a connection with the Samaritan woman. He did so very simply by asking, “Can I have some water?”

Vital Behavior #2: Start spiritual conversations. At His earliest opportunity, Jesus turned the conversation to the spiritual. “If you knew to whom you were speaking, you’d ask for living water.” He didn’t wait until the relationship had grown to deep levels. He didn’t wait for her to indicate interest in spiritual things. He got to the spiritual at His first opportunity.

Today, let’s look for opportunities to unashamedly pursue these vital behaviors. When we do, I think we’ll be amazed how many opportunities we end up with to share the gospel and how many disciples God will make using our efforts. 

Tomorrow’s reading is John 5

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Why Make Disciples?

Today’s reading is Matthew 28.

If you had asked me before today, “Why do we need to make disciples?” I would have said so people can be saved. And, certainly, that is true. However, it hit me in today’s reading that Jesus’s stated reason for us to make disciples is because “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Why do we make disciples of Jesus? Because Jesus is the King of heaven and earth. Why do we share the gospel? Because Jesus is King. Why can we be unashamed of the gospel? Because Jesus is King. I often say things like, “Will you make Jesus your King?” And while we all know what is meant by that statement, it isn’t actually the right question. Jesus is King. He is your King already. You need to be His disciple because He is King. The real questions are: Will you confess Jesus as King, and will you surrender to Him as such? How about today?

Tomorrow’s reading is Hebrews 1.

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Jesus’s Modus Operandi

Today’s reading is Matthew 4.

“And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction of the people.”

Listening to the blogosphere today, you’d think Jesus’s modus operandi was to enter a town, go to the “other side of the tracks,” seek out the marginalized and vulnerable, hang out with them, feed them, heal them, show how much He loved them, and then gain from that an opportunity to teach them. Therefore, those in authority hated Him, so they killed Him. That simply wasn’t His method. Jesus entered a town and went to church. That is, He went to the synagogue to teach. People of all shapes, sizes, and social statuses would come listen. He taught all and healed all in need. More would come to listen, and more would come to be healed. Please, don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying in today’s world we do our best and most effective evangelizing by preaching in a religious meeting house. I’m just asking for some honesty about Jesus Himself. We can’t possibly come to truth if we develop a habit of retrofitting what we think is a good idea back on top of what Jesus actually did and on top of what is actually written. Further, we are in danger of actually missing the point of Jesus’s mission and work when we do so. Jesus’s mission was not to socially empower the vulnerable or socially mainstream the marginalized. Jesus’s mission was to save souls from sin and build His kingdom. It happens that the marginalized and vulnerable were often the ones who did respond. Whatever we do and wherever we go to meet people, whoever responds, let’s make sure we keep Jesus’s main mission our main mission. And let us be unashamed of His gospel and His kingdom.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 5.

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Pray for Us

Today’s reading is 2 Thessalonians 3.

“Pray for us,” Paul writes, “that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored.” What a great prayer. As those unashamed of the gospel, busy passing it along, this should be a prayer we often speak. “And that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith.” And there is that part. No matter how much we proclaim and how much we pray, there will be unbelievers. Let us pray God will deliver us from them. Not only that He will deliver us from their physical attacks and persecutions, but even from their attitudes and influences that might drag us along in their unbelief. If you haven’t prayed yet today, make this part of your prayer. If you have, why not pray again and include this?

Monday’s reading is Matthew 1.

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God Gives the Growth

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 3.

We need to plant and water. We have a great seed in the gospel. We need to spread it around as much as we can. However, we need to know it is not our work that causes the seed to grow. That is God. I am successful when I plant and water. It’s up to God, not me, to make that seed sprout in someone’s heart and produce fruit. Certainly, we don’t need to be reckless and careless in how we plant and water, but neither do we have to sit paralyzed trying to figure out the best way to share the gospel as if its success depends on us. God’s Word sounded forth will produce God’s results. Sometimes the result will be simply leaving others without excuse. Sometimes the result will be glorious salvation for the hearer. But we are successful when we have planted and watered. Let’s be unashamed. Let’s plant and water the gospel seed.

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Corinthians 4.

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Saving the Gentiles

Today’s reading is 1 Peter 4.

There is a common idea floating around today among those who call themselves Christians. The idea is if we want to save people, we need to become more like them. Thus, Christians are encouraged to hang out with those still living in sin even while they are committing their sins. Go to their parties, drink at their bars, support their events that promote sin, etc. By doing this, we are told, they will know we aren’t “holier-than-thou” and that we really do love them. We are even told stories about Gentiles who were impressed and said nice things about Christians who behaved this way. Here’s the rub. That is simply not what the apostle Peter says to do. He says we’ve already spent enough time living like the Gentiles. We’ve already spent enough time in their parties, at their bars, at their events. Peter even admits, “Yes, the non-Christians will malign you.” But that didn’t change his stance. We don’t save the Gentiles by acting like the Gentiles. Those Gentiles who will be saved, will be saved by seeing our holy and honorable conduct and realizing as much as they want to malign us, they really don’t have a leg to stand on. Then they ask us about our hope. In this way, save the Gentiles. God’s way.

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Peter 5.

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Into All the World

Today’s reading is Mark 16.

Have you ever noticed that the 11 to whom Jesus said, “Go into all the world,” didn’t actually do it? At least, we don’t see them doing it in the Bible. Even when the church was dispersed because of Saul’s persecution, the apostles stayed in Jerusalem. Paul traveled quite a bit. But there are no trips into Africa for him. Jesus was not giving a personal commission to the apostles that they themselves had to make missionary trips to every location in the world, or even in the known world of the Roman Empire. At least they didn’t interpret it that way. Rather, they were establishing a kingdom that through their teaching and influence over others would go into all the world. We are part of that commission. Fulfilling it doesn’t mean you have to take a missionary trip to a foreign land. It does mean we need to take the gospel to people wherever we go and then teach those people to take it with them to people wherever they go and teach those people to…you get the idea. If you have an opportunity for a foreign missionary trip, take it. But don’t wait for that. A domestic missionary trip to your next door neighbor’s house or to the cubicle on the other side of your office or to the checkout clerk at your local grocery store fulfills this commission also. The commission is for you and all you teach. Keep it up.

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Peter 1.

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