My heart is to see a mighty harvest reached for the Kingdom in 2015. For this reason I am offering my newest book, How Beautiful Are the Feet of Those Who Bring Good News, for FREE on Kindle New Year’s Eve and New Year’s day. It was written for the purpose of equipping and encouraging Christians to share their faith. It is also also available in paperback. Please share this information. Follow this link to download your copy: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00Q3ZW8J2
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28 Days of Christmas Devotions: The Greatest Gift-The Gift of Christ
“ How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” Romans 10:14-15 NASB
When the angel appeared to the shepherds that first Christmas night they said, “I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10). His declaration was that the good news of Christ’s birth was for “all the people.” Later in this same chapter Simeon declared that Jesus came for both the Jews and the Gentiles. Again, He is for all the people.
Jesus didn’t come for a select group of people. Nor did Jesus come only for the faithful who sit in the pews Sunday after Sunday. His heart is that all would come to repentance, receive His free gift of salvation, and be redeemed. For this reason, He told His children to, “Go into all of the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15). Peter tells us in I Peter 2:9 that one of the churches primary roles is, “that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Every Christian is responsible for this task.
Paul said in Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power unto salvation unto those who believe.” If the gospel is powerful for transformation, the opposite is true that if the gospel is not proclaimed individuals, families, communities, and societies will be left to ruin apart from the proclamation of it. If you are saved, you are saved because you received the free gift of the gospel. Now that you are saved, God has called you to pay it forward and tell others so they will not be ruined and undone.
We have already seen so many wonderful gifts that God has given to His children. Each gift is received because we received the good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are greedy and dishonorable to God if we hoard all of these gifts for ourselves. God’s heart is to save every man woman and child so they too can receive His free gifts. Paul said in Romans 10:13, “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How will they know unless we tell them?
The feet that carry the Good News may become callused, bruised, and bloody; they may become dusty, dirty, and grimy; they may become tired, weary, and worn, but they are beautiful to God. For, they are bringing the Good News of Jesus to a lost world, the world of whom He loves and a world He came to save. Although proclaiming the gospel requires sacrifice on our part, it is a gift. A gift to the world in the name of Jesus. Truly, we have received the greatest gift the world has ever seen. Now, let us freely give as we have freely received.
This is part 25 of 28 devotions that will go through Christmas Eve. If you would like to subscribe to my daily devotions please PM me your email. Also, please share. To see all of the devotions visit rustykuhn.com
“Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you” (I Timothy 4:16).
If we are going to be effective tools for the Lord, we must take heed to the words of Paul and pay close attention to ourselves. With this in mind we should continually examine ourselves. We examine ourselves through the Word of God and through prayer. Psalm 139:23-24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” This should be a continual prayer from our heart.
Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear.” If God will not hear us, he certainly will not use us. Therefore, as we examine our heart we must ask God to reveal any wickedness we may have hidden in our heart. One may say, “I have no need for this, for my heart is pure.” That is pride, which is in every way, wickedness. Remember, “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling” (Proverbs 16:18). The Pharisees were prideful in what they perceived to be their righteousness, but, Jesus called them sons of Hell.
Iniquity and wickedness is sneaky, hiding in the darkest corners of our soul, unwilling to show itself for what it is, so it can control your will and manipulate you into thinking you are right with God. Some iniquity could have been lingering in the darkness for years while we are clueless of its power over us. Other forms of wickedness could have recently crept in trying to take root. For this reason we must pay close attention to ourselves and seek God for revelation of any form of wickedness hidden deep within.
Wickedness can come in many forms. It is found in the heart that is unloving and selfish. It is found in the soul that is self-centered and self-seeking. It is found in the heart of the prideful trusting in their own power rather than God’s. It is found in the heart of the prejudice thinking they are better than the other. It is found in the vengeful, spiteful, resentful, and unforgiving spirit. It is found in the one who is seeking his own kingdom with worldly ambitions, rather than the advancements of God’s. It comes in many forms and in many ways, but the worst form of wickedness is the stubborn soul that refuses to repent and submit to God.
As we pay close attention to ourselves, we are sure to find flaws in our character that do not line up with God’s. We first trust in His grace and receive forgiveness, then we seek His transforming and renewing power, trusting that He will restore us into right relationship. We realize that we never reach the pinnacle of maturity as a Christian. We are perpetually learning and growing. For this reason, if we are going to be effective workers for His Kingdom, we must perpetually seek the power of God in our personal lives, submitting ourselves to His will, and His ways.
In order for us to achieve this spiritual success we must be devoted to the Word of God. Not devoted only to enhance the ministry in which God has called us, but first and foremost devoted to the Word of God for our own spiritual growth and well-being. We must be seekers of God, continually seeking Him through His Word. At the same time we must pray without ceasing. Again not only for the purpose of the ministry, but as seekers of the Lord, allowing our lips to never cease praising Him, and never cease requesting His presence in our lives. Not for what we can get from Him, but for the simple purpose of having Him central and exalted in our lives.
If Jesus is not central and exalted in our lives, we open the door for wickedness to enter in, and close the door for the power of God to work through us. Therefore, when we pay close attention to ourselves, the main question should always be, “Is Jesus central and exalted in my life?”
Have you ever heard someone say after looking at a beautiful sculpture, “That artist must have some great carving tools?” Or, have you heard someone say after seeing a beautiful building, “Those construction workers must have had some amazing tools?” Of course not. There’s never an emphasis on the tools. The artist or the architect always receives the praise. God is the artist and the architect of the Kingdom. He is the master designer and we are simply the tools. Therefore, He deserves all the glory and honor.
That being said, every worker regardless of their trade knows the value of good tools. Poor quality tools or tools that are not functioning properly can be very frustrating to work with, hindering the progress of the project. For this reason we need to make sure we are a properly prepared tool that will be used to enhance the work of the Kingdom, instead of being a hindrance. Paul said to Timothy in I Timothy 4:16, “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.”
We are in a spiritual battle. Therefore, if we are going to be successful we need to set ourselves up spiritually to use the divinely powerful weapons of warfare God has available for us and the spiritual gifting God has given to us. If we attempt to do the work of the Kingdom in our own strength and power, we will utterly fail. Paul said in I Corinthians 2:4, “My message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” The flesh will always fail us. But, when we align ourselves up with the power and anointing of God, we will have success far beyond what we can hope for or even imagine.
Paul said to Timothy, the pastor of Ephesus, “Pay close attention to yourself.” Before we can effectively minister to others we need to examine ourselves and make sure we are right. The best way to stay in tune with God is to keep close fellowship with Him. We must daily seek God’s presence in our lives. Not just His presence for the anointing of the work in which He has called us to, but His presence for our close and personal fellowship with the Him. We must be active, consistent, and persistent seekers and worshipers of the Lord.
Colossians 3:1-2 says, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” If we are focused on the things of this earth, we will be easily susceptible to falling for earthly and fleshly ways and be conformed to this world. Thus, our ministry will follow that same path. However, when we are focused on the things above, we are led by the things above and our ministry will likewise follow that same path.
A tool that is dull, dirty, or rusted is an ineffective tool. Therefore, pay close attention to yourself. Are you allowing God to sharpen you, oil you up, and clean you? If not, you are an ineffective tool for the Master. If you are daily seeking and submitting yourself to God, you are allowing Him to sharpen you, oil you, and clean you, so you can be used greatly for His glory. God is unlimited in His abilities. However, God chooses to use us as His tools. Therefore, we need to offer Him the quality of tool He deserves.
Paul wrote in I Corinthians 4:6, “Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.” In this verse he is telling the church of Corinth that he and Apollos have made a standard for themselves not to exceed what is written. He is now telling the church of Corinth to follow their example. What was written? The scriptures. Clearly the Word of God is our authority that we are not to exceed or go beyond.
Paul also wrote in II Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” When one looks at this text in its original language they will see that the literal meaning of “inspired by God” means “God breathed.” God used many men to write down His word but all Scripture comes directly from the breath of God. It is God’s word not mans. II Peter 1:20-21 says, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” For anyone to go beyond what is written is arrogant, boastful, and blasphemous. God has given to us His word “So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” (I Peter 1:19).
Paul said that Scripture is profitable. He then listed several things it was profitable for. Since it is profitable we will gain and increase through the study of the Word of God which is God breathed. The end result we gain from Scripture is “that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Through God’s word we have everything we will ever need to be thoroughly equipped for service unto Him.
Paul first mentions that Scripture is profitable for teaching. When we are taught, the teaching must be centered in Scripture. When we teach, our teaching must be centered in Scripture. He then says that scripture is profitable for reproof. To reproof someone is to call them out for an error or a wrong. When calling one out for being wrong or for an error in their lives or teaching we must use Scripture. Our opinions are always susceptible to being wrong. However, Scripture is always right. Paul then said Scripture is profitable for correction. Correction is restoration to an upright position. We don’t want to be reproved and not know how to correct the error of our way. Scripture brings us back into the right path, out of the error. It corrects us.
Paul then tells us that Scripture is profitable for training in righteousness. Romans 3:10 tells us that, “there is no one righteous, not even one.” Most everyone will admit that they are a sinner. However, not everyone knows the guilt of their unrighteousness. Scripture makes it clear. Romans 3:22 then tells us that we receive righteousness by placing our faith in Christ and Romans 3:26 tells us that faith in Christ justifies us-makes us right with God. Yet, how will we or anyone else know these truths apart from the authority of God’s word? We won’t. And, apart from Scripture, how will we grow in righteousness? We won’t.
Whether it is for our personal growth, or teaching others, we trust in the authority of God’s breathed word. Paul said not to go beyond what it written. If we were to go beyond what is written it will profit us nothing and more than likely will cause great harm. However, when we trust in the authority of the written word that was breathed from God with our lives and our ministry we will be adequately equipped for every good work. In other words, we will be lacking in nothing.
The number one excuse I hear people use for not sharing their faith and serve God is fear. We will discuss that in a moment. The second greatest reason people give is that they do not know God’s word. My question is, why not? Why do you not know the Word of God? Do you not own a bible? The majority of churches in this world will gladly give you a bible for free. The Gideon’s give millions of bibles away yearly; therefore, not owning a bible is not a valid excuse. Even those who cannot read are without excuse since the bible is readily available in audio.
Not only is the bible readily available in our modern world we are blessed to have unlimited accesses to some of the greatest bible scholars along with an abundance of wonderful study materials. Therefore, not knowing the bible is a poor excuse. It represents laziness and callousness on your part. I Timothy 4:7 tells us to “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” If you don’t know God’s word you have only yourself to blame.
The excuse of fear is invalid as well. Fear is a lack of faith. Romans 10:17 tells us, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” When we study the Word of God, God builds up our faith. I have seen Christians who have sat in church pews for decades that are still babes in Christ. I have also seen brand new believers rapidly grow and mature in their faith. What makes the difference? One is indulging in the word and the other is not.
As already discussed, Satan is a liar. He is not only a liar; he is a very good liar with thousands of years of experience. When he came as a serpent to deceive Eve in the garden the bible describes him as, “more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.” However, Satan’s only power over us is his lies. Therefore, if we know the Word of God, and stand firm on the Word of God, we have no reason to fear the lies of the devil.
Colossians 2:8 warns us to, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Satan’s false prophets are in abundance. They look Christian; they might even speak some Christian truths from time to time. But, the consistency of their message will drastically conflict with that of God’s. The root of their message is deadly and destructive. But, how will we know unless we know the word of God?
The Greek word translated into “spoil” in Colossians 2:8 literally means to “carry you off” or to “capture you.” In other words, Colossians 2:8 is warning us not to become a “spoil” of war captured and taken away. HBCS translates it this way, “Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.” Satan would love nothing more than to capture you as a spoil of war. However, if you know the word you will not be tricked by philosophy or empty deceit of the traditions of man. You will stand firm in victory through your faith in God’s truth-His word.
Not only do we stand firm in the truth of God’s word, we also fight the good fight with it. It is our greatest tool to defeat the lies of Satan and win over those who have been taken captive. II Peter 3:15 says, “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” What better way do we have to make a defense of our faith in Christ than “the word of God (that) is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart?” (Hebrews 4:12).
In Revelation Jesus told John to write to the seven churches in Asia. The first of those churches was the church of Ephesus. (Revelation 2:1-7). Jesus praised this church for putting to the test those who called themselves apostles and were not. By proving that they were not apostles and indeed false prophets they protected the integrity and true teaching of the church. We also find Paul in II Timothy 6:20 instructing Timothy to “guard what has been entrusted to you.” What was Timothy entrusted to? What did he need to guard? The church. Timothy was the pastor of the church of Ephesus. Guarding and protecting the church from false teachers was planted in Ephesus DNA from its very beginning. For this reason, Jesus praised the church.
We test those who claim that they are of God with the authority of God’s word. If they fail to line up with God’s word they are false prophets. Let’s be clear though. We can have doctrinal differences with other Christians who are truly Christians. We simply disagree on certain subjects. One can believe in a pre-tribulation rapture while the other believes in a mid or post-tribulation rapture and another doesn’t believe there will even be rapture at all. I am a very solid pre-tribulationist. I personally believe that the pre-tribulation rapture is abundantly clear in scripture. Does this mean that I should view anyone who believes otherwise as a false prophet? Of course not. Christians can and will disagree on a variety of issues. However, a false prophet is one who denies the fundamentals of the faith such as the person and the work of Christ, along with the means and method of salvation. Once we have determined who is a false prophet we must then ask the question, “How do we deal with those who are sheep in wolves clothing; those who claim to be of God and are not?
First, don’t get distracted. Paul told Timothy to, “avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”— which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith.” II Timothy 6:20-21. If Satan can’t trick us into his lies he will try to distract us from sharing truth. He is perfectly happy with us stomping out embers as long as we are ignoring the forest that is ablaze. If this happens he still wins. If we get caught up into debating “worldly and empty chatter” rather than proclaiming the truth of God’s word we are losing that battle. We must stay focused on the task at hand. When dealing with false prophets, stick to the simplicity of the gospel.
One of Satan’s greatest distractions is to try and bring guilt upon the proclaimer of truth. When the proclaimer of truth calls a false prophet out for being false the devil will say, “You are being judgmental and Jesus said we shouldn’t judge.” However, within the context of scripture that Jesus said “Judge not least you be judged” (Matthew 7:1) He also said, “Beware of false prophets.” (Matthew 7:15). Don’t bother acknowledging the lies, stick with the truth, for the truth will set you free.
Secondly, although we do not need to be distracted by their deceit we need to pay attention to their deceit. Paul said in Romans 16:17, “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned.” How is their deceit impacting our witness? How is their deceit impacting non believers? How is their deceit impacting the church? When we understand their deceit we are better equipped to counter act it with truth. In the mid 90’s I spent some time in Salt Lake City. Prior to going I studied what Mormons teach and believe. As a result I was better equipped to share the truth of God’s word. Because of this I saw many place their faith and trust in the Jesus of the bible-the true Jesus. Does this mean that we need to become intimately familiar with every lie Satan ever told? Of course not. He is such a great liar I doubt that is even possible. It does mean that we should be intimately familiar with the Word of God. God’s word is truth. The greatest way to counteract a lie is with the truth.
Lastly, we need to turn away from false prophets. Paul continued in Romans 16:17-18 in saying, “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites.” Paul said to turn away from them. We should have nothing to do with them. When the true church disassociates itself from those who are false we make a clear and distinct statement, stating, “We are not of you and you are not of us.” Some would say that this is unloving. However, when we do not make a clear and bold statement of disassociation we are in danger of making others think we are in acceptance of the lies which makes them much more susceptible to receiving it which sets them up for destruction. Which is more unloving? If they choose to repent from the lie and turn to the truth, we will receive them.
Our heart should be as God’s heart, not wishing that any should parish and that all would come to repentance. However, when our clear testimony of truth has been presented and they refuse to come to the truth and are set on following the lust of their flesh rather than the truth of God’s word we sever ties, especially if they are in our churches. The time must come when we wipe the dust off our feet and move on. We continue to pray that the seeds of truth that was planted continue to work in their lives bringing them to the truth.